ANC's eThekwini conference delayed due to a disagreement over credentials.
By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
ANC eThekwini's Thabani Nyawose addresses supporters ahead of the region's elective conference. Photo Credit
The ANC's much contested eThekwini regional conference reached a stalemate in the early hours of Sunday morning as delegates clashed over the legitimacy of conference credentials.
At the centre of the dispute is whether regional task team leaders – a tentative leadership structure – would be allowed to vote.
Initially, 88 of the 111 branches were eligible to vote following an audit which was done by Luthuli House late last month.
It is understood that some branches lodged appeals and they were allowed to join the voting queue when the regional conference gets off the ground at the Durban ICC on Saturday.
The convener of the task team, Kwazi Mshengu, denied that they are now awaiting guidance from the NEC as the provincial executive committee of the ANC is very clear on the voting rights of task team members.
"We are not awaiting the guidance. The Province has a PEC decision that ANC Task Team doesn’t vote. This was a continuation of the practice as we know it. At the Provincial Conference in 2018, the Provincial Task Team led by (Mike) Mabuyakhulu and (Sihle) Zikalala did not vote. So the position is still the same," Mshengu said.
The contest at this much-awaited conference is between former eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede and Thabani Nyawose, the current speaker in the same municipality.
Gumede is openly pro-RET (radical economic transformation) forces, while Nyawose has been dubbed the renew, revive and unite (RRU) faction. Again, Gumede is contesting the conference in absentia, as the ANC's step aside resolution bars criminally charged members from attending its gatherings.
A well-placed source said the debate about who should be allowed to vote proved how high the stakes were.
The second source said: This race is very close to call and so every single delegate matters. Both sides need every single delegate that they rely on.
The ANC's eThekwini region is the largest and most influential region in the party and has a bearing on the ANC's provincial and national elective conference, scheduled for July and December.
A win for Gumede's slate would be seen as a massive win for former health minister Zweli Mkhize, who is gunning for a position at the helm of the party.
He, together with suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and beleaguered ANC Women's League president Bathabile Dlamini, were in Durban rallying delegates who support Gumede.
The conference is expected to resume this morning and attempt to adopt credentials, nominate and then vote for new leadership.
eThekwini is the ANC’s biggest region, while KwaZulu-Natal traditionally sends the largest delegation to the national conference.