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We won’t hold ANC KZN conference just for the sake of it – Zikalala

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We won’t hold ANC KZN conference just for the sake of it – Zikalala

ANC KZN provincial coordinator Sihle Zikalala

18th May 2018

By: News24Wire

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Even though most African National Congress (ANC) regions in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) had held smooth conferences, the party's provincial coordinator Sihle Zikalala admits the province is not ready to hold its conference just yet.

The provincial task team coordinator told News24 in an interview this week that KZN, which is home to the ANC’s largest membership, would take a break from regional conferences over the weekend to mourn their recently fallen comrades.

The party has been rocked by the assassinations of some of its members in the province, with President Cyril Ramaphosa declaring that political killings in KZN were a matter of national concern.

Recent victims of the orchestrated attacks were Sfiso Cele, from the Lower South Coast region, and Maqatha Mchunu, from Pietermaritzburg. They were both gunned down last week.

"We thought, let’s put conferences on hold, prepare and ensure that by the following weekend we got through the conferences that were still outstanding," said Zikalala.

He said the Harry Gwala and Abaqulusi regions would sit soon, but that the Moses Mabida and Lower South Coast regions would be subjected to assessment before a determination was made for them to go ahead with their conferences.

"These are the two which had been affected by the killings recently, but also, there has been political tensions which must be addressed quite honestly," noted Zikalala.

"We do not have a conference for the sake of having a conference, but we do want to build an organisation that is united and vibrant," he added.

'W e need to give time to the Moerane Commission'

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule gave permission to provinces which were ready to hold their provincial conferences to go ahead, but none have managed to do so.

Members of the ANC’s national executive had been divided over whether its provinces should be focusing on leadership battles, instead of the fast looming 2019 general elections, with some pushing for regional and provincial conferences to be put on hold until after the election.

Zikalala, speaking further on the impact of the perceptions of violence and its role in the ANC’s leadership contests, said it was a serious and worrying perception that some thought party members were targeting each other, purely because they held different political views.

"The reality is that there are people who have lost their lives and we are quite concerned about that. We have not yet established that those people have died because of dissenting views on political issues. Some are raising that this is because of local government issues or positions in municipalities. It is a subject of interrogation.

'We, therefore, believe we need to give time to the Moerane Commission to present its report," he said, referring to a commission currently looking into the political killings which have become synonymous with both the province and the ANC.

Zikalala, who has been punted by some as the incoming chairperson of the region, also discussed the kind of leadership he believed needed to emerge when when the province finally sits for its elective conference.

'Any leader that gets elected gets maximum support'

He told News24 that the ANC needed cadres who were prepared to lead all the people in the province.

"The new leadership must be firm in stemming out all tendencies that erode the democratic character of the ANC and the discipline of its members. It should also be steadfast on the transformation agenda," he insisted.

Zikalala was the chairperson of the province when the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg disbanded the provincial executive and ordered that a provincial conference be re-run.

The province has also seen a growing split, as some sought to put their faith behind Ramaphosa’s bid to become the party’s president in the ANC’s 2017 national elective conference. Others backed former AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

Some of those opposed to Ramaphosa have told News24 that they were not keen to campaign on his behalf ahead of the 2019 polls. Zikalala dismissed this, saying that just because he did not support the president then didn't mean he would continue in that vein.

"Any leader that gets elected gets maximum support," he said.

Zikalala also insisted that the "dynamics" that played out around the 54 th national conference had served as lessons from which the party could still learn.

He also sought to explain a video which recently surfaced showing ANC members in the province singing songs about the former ANC and South African president Jacob Zuma while Ramaphosa looked on.

"Yes, the question of how president Zuma was treated was raised. Songs were sang, but what we have not told you is that the provincial leadership dealt with that. It affirmed the organisational principles and reprimanded the people who were singing," said Zikalala.

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