ROAD TO ELECTIONS
KZN ANC takes action against councillors campaigning for Zuma’s MK party
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal is wielding the axe against councillors accused of campaigning for rebel uMkhonto Wesizwe party, and taking disciplinary action.
THE KZN branch of the ANC has suspended the membership of eThekwini Municipality councillor and ANC regional executive member Siphiwe Mpungose. It is pursuing disciplinary action against three other councillors who have defied the party’s warnings by campaigning for the new uMkhonto Wesizwe party.
Revealing these disciplinary actions on Friday, ANC KZN spokesperson Mafika Mndebele said the names of the three other councillors would be revealed once they have been formally charged with contravening the ANC constitution, which bars members from associating or campaigning for a political formation in opposition to the ANC.
Read more in Daily Maverick: KZN ANC says Zuma has ‘freed’ the party and warns members with MK links
Mpungose, who hails from KwaMashu, is an additional member of the ANC eThekwini Regional Executive Committee, which was elected in the July 2022 conference that voted for former mayor and fraud-and-corruption-accused Zandile Gumede as the chairperson, a position that she has not occupied after abiding by the ANC NEC’s step-aside resolution.
Before the formation of the MK party, Mpungose is said to have been a close ally of Gumede and a staunch supporter of former president Jacob Zuma – who has emerged as the key champion and recruiter of the party.
Read more in Daily Maverick: ANC NEC suspends ex-president Jacob Zuma over MK party support
The Electoral Commission confirmed last week that due to his 15-month conviction for contempt of court, Zuma is not eligible as a member of Parliament, or to be nominated as a president-elect.
Mpungose, announced by the MK party as one of its coordinators in KZN, has been campaigning for the new party on social media and other platforms.
Opposition parties were banking on his disgruntlement with the ANC to assist its motion of no confidence against eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, where Kaunda narrowly survived the axe by a few council votes.
Mndebele said: “We have referred three of our public representatives to the DC committee, These are the people who we suspect are involved in activities that are against the ANC. The DC – as an independent body – will have to satisfy itself of the alleged misconduct before notifying and bringing these comrades before it so that they can answer the charges brought against them.
Attempts by Daily Maverick to contact Mpungose were unsuccessful.
‘Left the ANC’
“On the case of Mpungose, we consider him to have left the ANC and there is no point in disciplining him because he has also accepted a position of one of the coordinators of MK party. To us this tells us that he had left,” he said.
If councillors were expelled, by-elections would need to be held.
Mndebele denied that the MK party was running riot in ANC branches and regions, taking away ANC supporters. “The MK party exists in social media and a few media organisations. On the ground they are not there. There is not a single member of the PEC who has joined the MK party. Only one additional REC member has joined the party. We have asked the regional secretaries to inform us of people who are ANC members who are recruiting or campaigning for MK.
“We don’t have a strategy specifically for MK because we feel that this party will not have any significant impact on the ANC. Many went to the party in support of Jacob Zuma and now that they have heard that he will not be on the ballot paper, they are starting to fight about who will be the leader because some of them went to the party expecting positions.”
ANC leaders misguided
Serame Nameh Mogale, a former MK combatant who is the convenor of MK party in KZN, told Daily Maverick on Friday that ANC leaders were misguided to think that the new party would not dent their support.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Beyond KZN, Zuma’s MK party targets three other provinces rich in ANC voters
Mogale said he was a dormant and “under-utilised” ANC member, helping the eThekwini ANC with political education, when MK founders called on him “to join the party and lead the way”.
“I have decided to accept a nomination as the convenor of MK in KZN and the ANC can decide what to do with its member [Mogale],” he said, adding that any member expelled by the ANC will be welcomed in the MK party.
“The MK party was not formed to challenge the ANC. The MK party was formed to fight for the grievances of the African majority. We need to re-orientate the country so that it is able to consider and fulfil the grievances that our ancestors fought and died for, issues like the economy and land,” Mogale said.
Mogale added that initially MK party just wanted support on the ground, but now the IEC is forcing it to have structures, offices and to elect leaders. He said they will do so reluctantly.
Read More In Daily Maverick: Jacob Zuma’s MK spin-off faces uphill battle to win support
Another MK recruiter, a civil servant and Radical Economic Transformation proponent, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said MK found fertile ground for recruitment in ANC structures because many supporters were disgruntled. “I started recruiting for this party in October. But it is only when JZ entered the fray that we started to see significant progress.
“The ground was fertile for us to recruit within ANC structures. There were many who were disillusioned – the lack of service delivery, arrogance of the leadership.
“Old people who had always voted for the ANC but said they would remain at home said to us now they’d found a new home. They said they don’t hate the ANC but are angry at the current leadership. Even young people say the MK brand resonates with them and they will vote for it. Even people from the EFF, from the IFP are now coming to our party,” he claimed.
Testing candidate strength
MK party leaders say they will field candidates in the upcoming by-elections to test their electoral strength.
Zakhele Ndlovu, a political analyst based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, maintained that it is premature to determine the impact of MK on the political landscape. “What is clear is that it is recruiting mainly from ANC structures.
“We see people who have been staunch ANC supporters now rooting for MK. Until there is an election, where the voters will show their hands, it is not easy to make a call. We also don’t know what impact the information that JZ will not be allowed to contest could have.
“This could open a mortal wound to the MK party because it now has to find a leader other than Zuma, who may not resonate with some supporters.” DM