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KZN ANC says Zuma has ‘freed’ the party and warns members with MK links

KZN ANC says Zuma has ‘freed’ the party and warns members with MK links
Illustrative image | Jacob Zuma. (Photos: Ihsaan Haffejee / AFP | iStock | Gallo Images / Misha Jordaan)

The ANC’s grip on KwaZulu-Natal was tenuous before Jacob Zuma backed a rival party. Since the launch of uMkhonto Wesizwe, provincial leaders have been mobilising to limit its impact on the ANC’s support.

The shadow of Jacob Zuma — the former President who has emerged as the key campaigner for the newly formed uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK) party — loomed large as ANC KwaZulu-Natal leaders and activists met this week to discuss their election strategy ahead of this year’s general elections.

The elections coincide with 30 years of SA’s democratic dispensation in which the ANC has had an uninterrupted hold on national power. But these elections will be the party’s toughest test and polls predict that it could lose its outright majority in the National Assembly. It’s particularly vulnerable in KwaZulu-Natal.

Bheki Mtolo, the ANC’s KZN provincial secretary, told a media conference in Durban on Wednesday that last week more than 50,000 of the party’s members and activists had attended the “cadres’ forums” it held to discuss the elections.

A Social Research Foundation poll released in October found that the ruling party could lose the province in the general elections and would secure only about 41% of the vote if the turnout is 66%, with an even worse outcome if the turnout drops below 50%.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Three polls show ANC election support is falling off a cliff

The same poll suggested that with a 66% turnout, the IFP would garner 27% of the provincial vote and the DA 19%. While polls sometimes underestimate ANC support, if these predictions are actualised, the IFP and DA, both members of the Multi-Party Charter, will have more than 40% and a chance to form a coalition to lead KZN.

The Zuma challenge

Things have changed since that poll. One imminent challenge is the formation of the MK party, which uses the name and symbols of the ANC’s armed wing during the Struggle and whose biggest champion is Zuma.

Zuma has maintained that although he remains a member of the ANC, he is campaigning for the new party against the “ANC of Ramaphosa”, whom he accuses of using “white monopoly capital” to repurpose it against black people.

Another SRF poll from October found that Zuma was the most popular political figure in KZN, but in January the think tank said its “estimate is that Mr Zuma’s new political venture might at best shave just a few political points off the ANC’s support base”.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Beyond KZN, Zuma’s MK party targets three other provinces rich in ANC voters

Zuma and the MK party are actively recruiting within the ANC’s traditional support base, targeting voters who are disillusioned with the party’s performance in government and those who still hold Zuma in high regard.

MK leaders have been talking up the number of people who have joined the party and supporters who have committed to vote for it, with some even claiming it could win a two-thirds majority in the province.

However, most pundits predict MK could, at best, win a percentage of votes that is somewhere in the low single digits. 

The ANC, even with Zuma as its president, has never got close to a two-thirds majority in the province.

In the first democratic election in 1994, the IFP won control of KZN with just over 50% of the provincial vote, against the ANC’s 32%. 

The ANC won the province for the first time in 2004 when Zuma was the party’s deputy president. In 2014, when Zuma was President, it increased its share of the vote to 64% before dropping back to 54% in 2019. The IFP, whose vote dropped to a low of 10% in 2014, garnered 16% in 2019 and continued to show strong support in the 2021 local government elections and recent by-elections.


Zuma has ‘freed’ the ANC

On Wednesday morning, during a press briefing at the ANC’s KZN headquarters, the party’s Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) devoted a large chunk of its statement to how the party was handling this new electoral threat from Zuma.

Mtolo said the ANC was rooting out officials and members who were aiding and abetting the MK party.

“The majority of members including ANC supporters we have met during cadres’ forums committed to respecting the ANC and the ANC’s constitution and to be subjected to its policies and decisions. They made a revolutionary undertaking to defend the ANC and to ensure the longevity of the organisation in power and in society.

“They spoke with one voice against tendencies that aimed at weakening and dividing the ANC. In this regard, the PEC has resolved that action be taken against all members who are public representatives and members who are participating in the activities of other political parties,” Mtolo said.

“The following action will be taken: All ANC public representatives who are participating in activities of other political formations, their membership is summarily suspended with immediate effect and will be brought before the ANC Provincial Disciplinary Committee, and … members of the ANC who associate themselves and participate actively in activities of other political parties that contest elections against the ANC, they are presumed as having left the ANC and voluntarily terminated their membership and will be removed from the national register of members.”

While Zuma’s support for MK violates the party’s constitution, the ANC has been reluctant to subject its former president to disciplinary proceedings.

Mtolo said Zuma’s “voluntary termination” of his ANC membership had “freed” the party after years of defending him in courts and other public forums and it would now focus on renewing itself and correcting its past mistakes.

He said the party’s electoral and structural resources were fully focused on the final phase of its campaign, which will begin after it launches its election manifesto at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium on 25 February.

Read more in Daily Maverick: KZN provincial battlefield will present a major challenge to ANC’s continued grip on power

“We are aiming for a resounding victory of the ANC. KwaZulu-Natal is an environment that is so fertile for the ANC. As foot soldiers of the revolution commanded by the real commander-in-chief, President Matamela Ramaphosa, we shall crisscross KwaZulu-Natal, village to village, street by street, township to township, valley to valley, suburb to suburb, carrying the message of hope to our people. This will enable us to fulfil the historic mission of the ANC,” Mtolo said.

He said that in February, Ramaphosa will be in eThekwini, which has been beset by floods, water shortages and a host of other service delivery challenges, and will hold an imbizo to address community challenges and “to hear for himself the concerns of ordinary people. The President is prepared to listen and experience first-hand the daily struggles of our communities.”

Ramaphosa is yet to announce the date of the general elections.


Professor Musa Xulu, a retired academic who is based in KZN, said the coming weeks and months ahead of the elections would be very interesting as the ANC was taking the fight to Zuma and the MK’s doorstep and had roped in some of its former and current leaders to target the new adversary.

Last weekend at ANC events in the province, Police Minister Bheki Cele, Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu, Mtolo and other ANC heavyweights fired salvos at Zuma and his new party.

“There is a general exaggeration about the impact the MK party is likely to rattle the electoral fortunes of the ANC, especially in KZN. This exaggeration comes from an assumption that it was Zuma who helped the ANC gain power in KZN from 2004,” Xulu said.

“In politics, it becomes important to weaken your enemy. Zuma has become the public enemy number one of the ANC. It is therefore understandable that their leaders have taken a very well-calculated move aimed at exposing his history, including exile history, for public consumption.

“I don’t know what Zuma can say to the electorate outside of his ANC upbringing. What is worse is that all his efforts seem to come from this seemingly very deep hatred of President Ramaphosa as a person.”

Xulu said he did not foresee the MK party getting more than 5% of the vote in KZN and very little outside the province. He said those who voted for the MK party would be people who had previously voted for the ANC, the IFP and the EFF. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Danie Matthee says:

    JZ has come back to haunt the ANC. Instead of keeping JZ in prison when ordered by the Constitutional Court to serve his sentence, the ANC set him free within 2 hours on some nonsense excuse. KARMA is real …

  • Francois Smith says:

    Strange this RSA, one cannot find a white person who voted for the NP prior to 1994 and one cannot find an ANC member who supported Zuma during his presidency. If the ANC wants to correct its mistakes with Zuma, then forming a laager with him on the outside is probably not the way to go. It should start by capacitating the state so that the corruption and looting and political murders caused by Zuma can be properly investigated and those guilty, like Cele, Mokanyane, Gigaba etc and oja Zuma, can spend time in prison.

  • Dick Binge Binge says:

    Beware of the Trojan Horse.

  • Brendan Temple says:

    “We are aiming for a resounding victory of the ANC. KwaZulu-Natal is an environment that is so fertile for the ANC. As foot soldiers of the revolution commanded by the real commander-in-chief, President Matamela Ramaphosa, we shall crisscross KwaZulu-Natal, village to village, street by street, township to township, valley to valley, suburb to suburb, carrying the message of hope to our people. This will enable us to fulfil the historic mission of the ANC,” Mtolo said.

    I thought the revolution was 30 years ago. What is the
    revolution about now? The ANC is having to create a revolution against themselves.

    The joys are politics in Africa.

  • Simphiwe Daniel says:

    I’m viewing this whole unfolding situation from a neutralist perspective, with africanist background. I honestly do not think that the new MK will have that much of an impact on the ANC. Zuma supporting the MK, and the MK itself, will only be supported by corrupt people who wants their shenanigans to remain under the carpet. This affords the ANC the opportunity to take good moral standing on all Zuma’s dates with the law. I also think it’s wise that the ANC delays disciplining this former president who is turning into a chameleon, atleast until after the election and then deal with him once and for all and decisively. I would rather take my vote back to the PAC than follow this illiterate man down this destruction path. I think the worst problem facing the voters in Mzantsi is lack of schooling, not education. And this leads to this mob psycho attitude we seeing with this MK thing. We tend to fail to interrogate issues but we are being dictated to. Phantsi with this fake MK

  • Rae Earl says:

    The ultimate Hobson’s Choice for a cross section of provincial voters, the ANC or MK? Neither is capable of running South Africa never mind KZN. Zuma has been a monumental failure in every aspect of leadership and loyalty to his country and its citizens. He sold South Africa to a family from India for piles of cash and other handouts and is still enjoying those proceeds in his massive R265 million Nkandla Estate.
    Ramaphosa is a hopeless failure as a leader. So timid is he, that he gathers his close NEC comrades around him so that they can make ‘collective’ decisions on running the country. SA is now deep in the grip of that ‘collective’ and is staring doom in the face should the ‘collective’ emerge victorious once again.

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