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From Zuma parole ruling to horse-trading and backing Mkhize — KZN ANC leader Siboniso Duma reveals all

From Zuma parole ruling to horse-trading and backing Mkhize — KZN ANC leader Siboniso Duma reveals all
KZN African National Congress leader Siboniso Duma. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

Siboniso Duma says he will be engaging in high-level, behind-the-scenes talks and deals in the run-up to the ANC elective conference. This is because behind the scenes is where leaders are decided.

Siboniso Duma might be open to a little horse-trading at the ANC elective conference, and casually dismissive of the threat posed by a DA-IFP alliance in his KZN backyard. But there is one thing about which he is unequivocal: support for former president Jacob Zuma.

So, for him, the Supreme Court’s ruling on Zuma’s parole rankles — in fact, he says it raises a red flag about a judiciary that is biased and oblivious to the mayhem its judgments can cause.

In a wide-ranging interview with Daily Maverick in Durban on Wednesday, Duma spoke about this and other topics, including KZN’s support for Zweli Mkhize, the province’s stance on the forthcoming elective conference (as well as a readiness to accept and work with whatever new leadership emerges), the threat of a resurgent IFP and his party’s strategy to retain KZN at all costs in the 2024 general elections.

Duma — one of the prominent ANC leaders who will be behind the scenes at the conference, horse-trading and making deals to produce the party’s new leadership — was elected to the KZN top job at a hotly contested conference in July, where his Taliban faction swept the floor, vanquishing former premier Sihle Zikalala and those sympathetic to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Pundits who have been keenly following ANC politics and developments over the years would know that Mthombeni, as Duma is affectionately known, is a seasoned player in party politics who carved out a niche for himself in the hurly-burly of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) school.

He is part of the new generation of former Youth League leaders who did not follow Julius Malema when he formed the EFF. Now they are in charge, holding prominent positions in the party’s structures in various provinces — and demanding change.

KZN is Zuma territory, where he enjoys widespread popularity. After his incarceration in July 2021, KZN and parts of Gauteng became a hotbed of violence, mayhem and looting, resulting in the death of more than 300 people, pillaging and torching of malls, warehouses and supermarkets. This led to the loss of jobs and investments, from which the province is still trying to recover.

The Zuma parole ruling

About the SCA’s finding on Zuma — in which it dismissed his medical parole appeal — Duma said everybody should be equal in the eyes of the law, but that judges must be careful about the impact of their judgments.

“Something must be done on the issue of the judiciary in our country… I think (the Zuma judgment) was bizarre, even if it was unanimous, that President Zuma ought to go back to prison… For us (ANC in KZN) the (judgment) is an academic exercise, because the issue of parole was clear when it comes to the (then) Commissioner of Correctional Services (Arthur Fraser)… he followed almost all due processes, such as the fact that Zuma is an 80-year-old and he deserves to benefit (from parole), that he is a freedom fighter and a former president of the country. As KZN, we fully support him thoroughly. I think he has been ill-treated by the system.

“Another part of the parole system is that if you are (already) in prison you are in a correctional system and if you can contribute positively (when you are) back to society, you ought to be given a parole… President Zuma has gone back to the society, he is contributing positively. People are happy… the communities are happy that Msholozi is back,” Duma said.

On why KZN ANC didn’t back Zuma for national chairperson

In October, Zuma announced he wanted to return to active politics and become chairperson of the ANC. But, as nomination results showed, no province — including KZN — gave him enough support to reach the threshold to be included on the ballot.

“The highest honour and the highest position in the ANC is to become the president. President Zuma currently sits in the NEC as the ex-officio of the party. He sits in the highest decision-making body of the ANC. He will die as president of the ANC. He does not need to be elected to any position of the ANC. He does not need any new mandate or support from us. He is the stalwart of the ANC. It ends there for us,” Duma said.

On working with Ramaphosa, should he win

The previous leadership, ousted at the July KZN elective conference, was accused of not fully supporting Zuma in his troubles with the law, including incarceration for contempt of court in July 2021.

KZN has been a political no-go zone for President Cyril Ramaphosa. In fact, hostilities towards him are such that Duma himself had to quieten delegates singing pro-Zuma songs at the KZN elective conference, so the President could finish his closing remarks.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Siboniso Duma’s rise to power as ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairperson

After that, the party’s KZN leadership was the first to announce that it wanted Zweli Mkhize to take on Ramaphosa for ANC president.

According to the branch nomination results, however, it appears that Ramaphosa will cruise to a second term unless the Phala Phala scandal upends him.

“We (KZN ANC leadership) are the product of the conference ourselves. In the ANC there are no winners (take all) and there are no vanquished. When the conference is done, we rally behind the vision of the leadership that has been elected… Each time there is a conference, you are bound to have a new leadership elected. There is no need for that question because we will work with any leadership that will be elected,” he said.

On support for Zweli Mkhize

“The nomination process went well. We are covered by the scope of and the background that was presented by Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe, especially when he outlined that it is not the end of the road. So… according to the constitution of the ANC, when you go to the plenary, those who are eligible to be voted can still be raised on the plenary (conference floor).

“Those results (announced by Motlanthe) are the true reflection of the branches and what they want and need at this point and time. Almost all our preferred candidates — those who were proclaimed and pronounced by us as KZN — qualified to be on the ballot.

“In a democratic organisation like ours, there will always be different views. We are glad that we pronounced the name of Comrade Zweli Mkhize and he qualified to be on the ballot. So, the issue of lobbying will be ongoing until the 16th of December. We are happy that all the comrades that we endorsed in all the six positions are now part and parcel of the ballot. We will continue to lobby the branches, the region and other structures.”

An eye on 2024

Duma said he believes the upcoming conference is a do-or-die for the party and will have far-reaching ramifications, for the ANC and for the country.

“That conference in December should be a watershed in a sense that comrades must unite, understanding that we’ve got 2024 elections. So, the issue of December conference is not a means to an end, but it is where comrades must debate policies and how are we going to implement to the T the policies that are critical to the economic outlook of the country, when are you reviving the element of the stronger branches so that you are regarded as the leader of society… as opposed to (merely) declaring that.”  

The Ntuli surprise

The ANC nomination process threw up many surprises. Mdumiseni Ntuli, the former KZN ANC provincial secretary defeated by the Taliban faction candidate in the July conference, was snubbed by his KZN province, which opted to nominate the Eastern Cape’s Phumulo Masualle for ANC secretary-general.

But in the nomination results announced on Tuesday, Ntuli emerged as a favourite, receiving 1,225 branch nominations. Masualle and Fikile Mbalula, another candidate for the position, received 889 and 749 respectively.

Duma said that in the lobbying before the conference the province is sticking with its preferred candidate, but is open to negotiations and horse-trading.

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

“We are going to follow and lobby, as I have highlighted. Branches in KZN have spoken. Let us just follow that process. We will outline our process going to the national conference and whatever will transpire will bind us.

“Our duty is to nominate and give mandate to ANC comrades to lead the organisation. If they are elected it is fine, but if they are not elected it is part of the culture of the ANC. Out of the nine (ANC) provinces, as KZN we are not duty-bound or entitled to get a position in the top six. It is always a privilege to get it. As the (KZN ANC) leadership we are talking to and lobbying with other provinces and regions (from now until the conference).”

KZN’s strategy towards 2024

The upcoming conference will not take place in a vacuum. In the 2021 local government elections the ruling party not only performed dismally, but also dipped below 50% of the vote for the first time since the advent of democracy in 1994. In those polls, the party garnered only 45.59% of the vote, and resulted in the loss of many metros, particularly in Gauteng.

In KZN, the party slumped to just above 42% of the vote, losing a string of municipalities in the north to the IFP and its alliance partners now governing those municipalities. In the eThekwini Municipality, the province’s only metro, the ANC hung on to power through a coalition with minority parties.

Duma believes his new leadership is doing everything to reverse the recent slide and is confident they will retain power in the province in 2024.

“We are going back to basics. We are rebuilding our structures. We have a lot of programmes. At the level of government there have been a lot of activities. We have started izimbizo, aimed at reconnecting with our communities and going back to the ground. We are a responsive state now.

“We are responding to service delivery challenges. We are overly confident that we will emerge victorious in the 2024 general elections,” he said.

The IFP and DA coalition threat

The IFP and the DA announced this week that they are working at forming a formidable broad opposition election alliance, with the aim of ousting the ANC in KZN in 2024.

Duma, however, said his party is not worried or threatened by this.

“The racist DA will try all the means possible to advance their liberal cause and understanding. Unfortunately, the IFP is the official opposition in KZN that seems to be confused… at times they gang up with the DA…

“But we are not that worried about the opposition. Our focal area is how to service the people on the ground… we are already in charge as the government of the day. So, what we must do is lead, we must be responsible to ensure that whatever transpires on the ground in terms of service delivery challenges, we are there to address those challenges. We have to deal with the issues of unemployment and inequality, the issue of Covid-19, the issues of floods and July unrest,” he said. DM

 

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    What a nutter. He was given the opportunity to put definite plans on the table instead he opts again for vague promises and meaningless “we are responding to service delivery challenges”. What utter crap the ANC leadership spout. How are you responding to challenges? Take a picture … roll on 24.

    • Easy Does It says:

      You have to understand their supporters. They actually believe this nonsense with or without blinkers. I would feel insulted and change my vote if the party I support speaks this drivel. I guess you could call this being fortunate to be an anc leader who ha ready made supports who support a brand irrespective of its qualities. Voting for them has got nothing to do with politics – just branding.

    • Senzo Moyakhe says:

      This perpetual habit of referring to each other as ‘comrades’ points to an organisation that is blinkered by a romantic affinity to the non-existent socialist/communist ideals that were bred into the party by their Soviet supporters when they were a banned political organisation in South Africa. The simple reality is that communism/socialism does not exist. It never did, it was an ideal that looked past the basic driver of life – all life – on the planet. Survival of the fittest. Everyone wants what’s best for themselves, and often with no regard for what happens to the next person unless there are beneficial to their ambitions. The Soviet leaders were glorified by the nation; if it was an egalitarian system, why are some glorified. Or even using oppression to maintain their glorification. The USSR collapsed – the captured countries are still fixing decades of that mess (so-called “ANC service delivery challenges”). The senior ‘comrades’ are now the oligarchs feeding at THAT trough. The ANC is riding the same boat.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    Irrespective to which generation they belong, they all exhibit gangster-like behaviour.

  • R S says:

    At all costs in KZN? This usually means assassinations in that province.

  • John Counihan says:

    Why did the DM not ask this idiot the obvious question: “Do you believe that JZ is innocent of all the charges of corruption exposed by Zondo, and that he had nothing to do with State Capture and the Guptas”?

  • Confucious Says says:

    How the hell do you qualify this ” but that judges must be careful about the impact of their judgments.”? This is exactly the consequence of “without fear or favor”. WTAF man!?!?

  • Hilary Morris says:

    The most frightening aspect of this blind support for Zuma, is the repeated comments about the judiciary being biased. The realities of breaking the law are either disregarded or irrelevant. They are, in their view, in the right, and Zuma can do no wrong. It does not bode well for our judicial system that the masses feel entitled to demand leniency because he is old and ‘our’ president. The man is beyond corrupt and it doesn’t matter a damn. It is also not helpful that most SABC staff ask stupid questions of the public, as in “Do you agree Zuma should remain free.” Or some such idiocy. How do we educate people when the majority of their leaders are at least dishonest or outright crooks?

  • virginia crawford says:

    Comrade Duma: “Something must be done on the issue of the judiciary in our country…” Wow! A clear message that should worry any reasonable person! It would be interesting to know how this has gone in London with Comrade CR extolling the rule of law in S.A. The calling each other comrade elicits howls of disbelieving laughter from all ex- USSR citizens. I’m sure the Brits laugh too.

  • sakkielearmonth says:

    So when a crook (sic Zuma) is found guilty, the Judiciary must take into account the “mayhem” their finding might cause. This has no legal precedent!!

  • Geoff Woodruff says:

    Making deals, that’s what these halfwits call politics. Probably the promise of a good payoff as well. No wonder KZN is such a shambles.

  • nickha says:

    Mr Duma clearly does not understand the concept “rule of law. He is clearly not really interested in good governess and service delivery. I am really also sick and tired of petty politics for on the national agendas.

  • Epsilon Indi says:

    A little man with a limited intellect saying little things about matters he clearly does not understand.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    This childish infighting within the ANC merely disclosures how immature and self serving the politicians and voters are. Perhaps voting should be the prerogative of tax and ratepayers ( of all races) only – the people who support, educate and excuse these “ children” whilst they grow up and have learnt about ethics morals and the meaning of responsibility! They seem to want all the trappings of a civilised society but don’t understand the meaning.

  • Adam Nosworthy says:

    It is a great pity Duma did not follow Julius Malema when he formed the EFF – his mentality aligns with the drivel that is frequently spewed by the EFF.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    It seems that the ANC’s leadership qualifications include being a criminal or at least displaying criminal behaviour! Bizarre!

  • Senzo Moyakhe says:

    There is a frightening thread that runs through all these conversations with these ANC senior ‘comrades’ during their approaching election conferences. Never, NEVER, at all do you hear competent, coherent, conceivable plans to actually make a genuine difference in the country being brought to the forefront. It is always about ‘comrades’ and who is best to forward the desires of that particular faction. People must realise that the ANC is not about making SA a successful country and nation, it’s about a snout in the trough.

    Promising the people everything for free when Apartheid was dismantled was either driven by a genuine communist/socialist ideal or significant incompetence in assessing global politics and the fundamentals of governance (I reckon a significant confluence of both is what came to being). The bottom line is Apartheid was dismantled AFTER the Berlin Wall came down and the USSR was unravelling.

    Unfortunately this confluence (genuine communist ideals/lack of understanding economic & governance) is what is keeping the ANC in power. They always go back to the (largely poorly/uneducated) masses to drive this message of free everything. That’s why ANC electoral power is in the largely rural areas.

    The reality – nothing is free! Someone has to pay for something to happen. Whether it’s cash from your pocket or sweat from your brow. You pay – simple! In our country unfortunately, we are paying for boeps hanging from overstuffed shirts of our ‘comrades’.

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