Home South African Ramaphosa’s backers lose key KZN region

Ramaphosa’s backers lose key KZN region


Wife of Minister Mchunu, a Ramaphosa confidant, ousted; Cebekhulu victorious despite smear campaigns.

The ANC KwaZulu-Natal congratulates the newly elected leadership of Musa Dladla Region. Musa Cebekhulu as chairperson, Phiwa Mhlongo as deputy chairperson, Nathi Xulu as secretary, Babhekile Mthembu as deputy secretary and Smanga Mgenge as treasurer. Picture: Facebook/ANC KZN

DURBAN – Despite a promising start, the wife of a minister who is a Cyril Ramaphosa confidant failed dismally at the weekend to win one of the critical regional elective conferences in KwaZulu-Natal.

Thembeka Mchunu, the wife of Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu, was on Sunday beaten hands down by a latecomer while contesting to become the next chairperson of the Musa Dladla region (King Cetshwayo District) in northern KZN.

The region is the fourth largest in the province after eThekwini (Durban), Mzala Nxumalo (Zululand) and Moses Mabhida (Umgungundlovu).

At first, it was thought that it would be plain sailing for Mchunu because her slate included Tholi Gwala, the former regional secretary, and Lindo Phungula, the former mayor of King Cetshwayo District Municipality.

Her slate was initially up against one that was led by Mdu Mhlongo, the former regional chairperson who was also the mayor of the City of Umhlathuze (Mpangeni-Richards Bay).

Before the regional structure was disbanded, Mchunu was Mhlongo’s deputy. The pair worked together to remove the late Nonhle Mkhulisi from regional power before having a fallout that resulted in them forming two competing slates.

Before the heated conference, it was reported that there was a clandestine campaign to ditch both Mchunu and Mhlongo and get Musa Cebekhulu, a school principal, elected to lead the region.

Some felt that the ANC lost power to the IFP under their watch, hence they should not be re-elected.

When the nominations for the conference, held at Meet Mekaar near Mtubatuba, got under way late on Saturday, Cebekhulu was noisily nominated from the floor, and he accepted, pitting himself against the two.

Cebekhulu, who was subjected to smear campaigns before the conference, went on to convincingly trounce both Mchunu and Mhlongo to lead the region, incorporating towns like Eshowe, Nkandla, Richards Bay, Melmoth, Mpangeni and Mtunzini.

Cebekhulu garnered 161 votes, while Mchunu got 92 votes and the unpopular Mhlongo scored the lowest with 74 votes.

Under Cebekhulu’s slate, Nathi “Madzanga” Xulu was elected regional secretary, while former uMfolozi mayor Simanga Mgenge was elected regional treasurer, narrowly defeating Phungula.

The conference had the shadow of Zuma looming large over it as the delegates who are believed to have voted for the winning office bearers repeatedly sang the song, “Wenzeni uZuma, wenzeni uZuma awuphendule, wena udlala i-propaganda”.

Loosely translated, it means, “What has Zuma done wrong, those who are against him have been influenced by propaganda”.

The song, together with Awulethe umshini wami, became a trademark for Zuma supporters between 2016 and 2018 when he was engaged in a legal duel with former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, and when Save SA was baying for his blood, saying he must resign.

Xulu is said to be close to Zuma, with sources saying he met the former president several times before deciding to contest for the position he eventually won.

“Xulu is also from Nkandla and he idolises Zuma. He frequently met with him in Nkandla before accepting the nomination to become the next regional secretary.

“In fact, even his slate was blessed by Zuma,” said a delegate from the region who attended the conference.

Xulu did not respond when he was asked him about his association with Zuma.

Mgenge is openly sympathetic to Zuma.

In July last year, a few days before Zuma surrendered to start serving his 15-month sentence for contempt of the Constitutional Court, Mgenge, who was a mayor back then, visited Nkandla and was spotted among the legion of Zuma supporters who listened to his last public address before surrendering.

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