Cyril Ramaphosa supporters attending the three-day KwaZulu-Natal ANC provincial general council as delegates feel they are being bullied and their voices suppressed.
This after President Jacob Zuma stormed the event addressed by treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize in Empangeni on Friday.
This is the second time that Zuma has made an impromptu stop-over at a KwaZulu-Natal event being addressed by Mkhize.
In January when Mkhize addressed the 105th ANC anniversary celebrations in KwaDukuza as a national executive committee deployee‚ Zuma came in unannounced while he was in the middle of his speech causing former premier and chair Senzo Mchunu to leave the event.
Mchunu is a delegate at the three-day event and is known to support Mkhize’s bid for the deputy presidency under Ramaphosa.
Again on Friday Mkhize was the only NEC member appearing on the PGC programme‚ but provincial secretary Super Zuma announced that the president would join the event later and Mkhize confirmed it before the start of his address.
Zuma flew to the PGC venue from Swaziland on Friday evening where he had attended the 5th Southern African Customs Union summit‚ but arrived after Mkhize had finished his address.
One of Ramaphosa’s staunch supporters from the SACP said “this was bullying at the extreme”.
“This type of behaviour does not happen anywhere in the country where Mkhize or any other NEC members are deployed. This happened in Stanger in January and it was condoned‚ but clearly there’s a pattern‚” he said.
Another Ramaphosa supporter from the Lower South Coast region said it appeared Zuma was shepherding Mkhize.
“Is he afraid he’s gonna say something or is he suppressing his voice. Yes‚ he is the president and should go to any ANC major event as he pleases‚ but here’s a one-sided event where you have another candidate‚ Nkosazana [Dlamini-Zuma] and other NEC members but he insists on coming and this is beginning to show some intentions‚” he said.
Other NEC members who attended the opening of the PGC included Nocawe Mafu‚ Malusi Gigaba and Siyabonga Cwele.
Mkhize spoke sharply on ANC divisions and factions saying it was time the ANC spoke with one voice while stressing.
“We need to deal with [the] issue of division and issues of factions. We need to deal with them because the ANC is not a coalition of factions‚ the ANC is one organisation. [It is] important for us to discuss what’s best for the African National Congress‚” he said.
Mkhize said if KwaZulu-Natal was united the ANC would be united and if divided the ANC would be divided.
Zuma‚ in his address‚ called for the province to re-establish its influential position so that it influenced the direction of policy at national conferences.