KwaZulu-Natal Finance MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube is tipped to become the next premier of the province after Sihle Zikalala this week announced that he was stepping down from the post.
This comes after Siboniso Duma was voted in as the provincial chairperson during the province’s elective conference last month.
Dube-Ncube and the other two contenders, Amanda Bani and Mbali Fraizer, are due to sit for interviews soon, but Dube-Ncube is seen as the political heavyweight of the three, buoyed by the fact that she also ran a campaign to become the provincial chairperson.
ANC insiders in KwaZulu-Natal said Zikalala’s resignation just two weeks after his election loss to Duma for the provincial chairperson’s post in the ANC signalled that a raft of changes were imminent, including a provincial Cabinet reshuffle.
Siboniso Duma. Photo: Archive
Duma is earmarked for a provincial Cabinet post, which will enable him to monitor the direction of government from the inside.
Among those believed to be vulnerable to the looming shake-up are Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu, Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Peggy Nkonyeni, Human Settlements and Public Works MEC Jomo Sibiya and Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation MEC Hlengiwe Mavimbela.
Mshengu, Nkonyeni and Sibiya – all allies of Zikalala – failed to make it back into the provincial working committee structure that was elected at the first meeting of the Duma-led provincial executive committee (PEC) on Thursday.
eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda and Speaker of the provincial legislature Nontembeko Boyce also failed to make it back into the working committee, placing their positions at risk.
The working committee runs the day-to-day affairs of the party and comes second behind the top five in terms of guiding its political direction. Mavimbela, like Zikalala, failed to make the cut to be part of the newly elected 30-member PEC.
Zikalala was in a difficult position and circumstances dictated that he should step down, as he had recently lost the political authority to lead the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal.
Even worse, he too might not make it into the new PEC, which would remove him entirely from the important inner circle of influence in the governing party.
Had he opted to continue serving as premier, it would have meant he would be leading a government executive of MECs who enjoyed political authority over him.
An ANC insider in the province said:
If you aren’t in the PEC, how do you draft the programme of the provincial government? How do you marshal MECs or an executive which has political authority over you? The business of the organisation is run by the officials and the PEC
The insider added that, at the very least, the top five and the PEC would have had to find ways of inviting Zikalala to discussions “just to make sure that messages went through, that there was alignment between the party and the government and that he was aware of the direction”.
As a consequence, Zikalala left in a huff, claiming that he had been angered by the narrative that he was against former president Jacob Zuma and in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s camp.
Nomusa Dube-Ncube. Photo: Archive
On Friday afternoon, Zikalala hit back, saying he had supported Zuma for 17 years.
“Some have accused me of betraying Zuma. I wish to make it clear that I’ve supported him right from June 14 2005 until today. I supported him as a leader and as someone who’d [been prepared to sacrifice] for South Africa to be liberated. My support for him has never been personal, but organisational. At no stage did I try to get a position by being associated with him,” declared Zikalala