24/07/2017 06:27 SAST | Updated 25/07/2017 06:08 SAST

Battle For The Branches: How These Provinces Will Determine The ANC's Next Leader

The results of a heated contest for KwaZulu-Natal, the Northern Cape and the Western Cape could be highly influential in the succession race.

Rogan Ward / Reuters
Sihle Zikalala. leader of the powerful KZN ANC.


The battle for control of the provincial branches of the ANC is intensifying as the party draws nearer to electing a presidential successor in December.

Tensions are expected to reach boiling point this week when the party's national executive committee meets to discuss performance at various structural levels as well as internal leadership dynamics.

But the battle lines have already been drawn between top presidential runners Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and current deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa. The feuds are mainly between their respective camps across the country, who are fighting it out to take control of provincial executive committees ahead of December.

KwaZulu-Natal was always going to be a hazardous area for Ramaphosa -- the province being the home of both Zuma and his ex-wife. But internal factions have rocked the Zuma stronghold, making way for the deputy president. That is, if his supporters can overthrow the current leadership.

Currently, Zuma frontman Sihle Zikalala stands at the helm of the ANC in the province. Zikalala and his branch leaders, like KZN ANC secretary Super Zuma, are staunch and unwavering Zuma supporters and have thrown their weight behind Dlamini-Zuma.

But their title is being contested.

Ramaphosa's allies, led by former KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu, have instituted court proceedings to have the results of the 2015 provincial elective conference, where Zikala and his slate won, declared null and void. Citing procedural flaws, Mchunu's group believe the election was rigged and none of the leaders were legitimately elected.

The case is expected to be heard later next month, and if the court grants in Mchunu's favour, it will deal a fatal blow to Zikalala's influence in the province. In turn, Ramaphosa may have a few months to cover the province in his banners--– that is if the case isn't stalled further.

But Dlamini-Zuma's camp in KZN is not only on the defensive.

On Sunday, the provincial leadership announced it would strip the lower south coast region of its powers. The area is seen as a Mchunu stronghold and although the branch was not disbanded, stripping its leaders of power will have a knock-on effect in Ramaphosa's campaign.

The Dlamini-Zuma faction is also pushing for the disbandment of PECs in the Northern Cape and the Western Cape -- both of which are Ramaphosa-aligned.

In the Western Cape, there is an ongoing battle for the Dullah Omar region, the largest region in the province, which covers the Cape Town metro.

The Dlamini-Zuma camp had a tight hold on the region until it was recently disbanded after accusations of defiance and mismanagement.

It was replaced with a regional task team led by Leonard Ramatlakane, but the ousted structure turned to Luthuli House for an intervention.

Luthuli House, under the president, is also intervening in the Northern Cape.

Zuma led a high-level delegation to Kimberley recently to make a case for the disbandment of the provincial ANC executive in the province. Those leaders have expressed support for Ramaphosa.

In a turn of the coin as compared with KZN, it is the Dlamini-Zuma faction who are disgruntled over the succeeding PEC leadership and are claiming that they were elected irregularly.

The outcomes in each of these provinces will have a significant impact on each campaign in the run up to December.