Leaders are said to be engaged in fierce fights to return themselves to municipal positions after the 2021 local government elections.
Gert Sibande ANC contender Khulani Nhlabathi has spoken out about his availability to contest and how all the battles in the region have been playing out, saying “selfish” leaders are to blame for the party being wholly divided in Gert.
Nhlabathi is currently positioned as the man to lead the contest on behalf of a growing dissatisfied grouping that wants to get rid of regional chairman Muzi Chirwa’s leadership at the party’s upcoming elective RGC later this year.
The bloc is backed by Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane and Ermelo strongman Sibusiso ‘The Great’ Sgudla, and has a strong backing from regional leaders of alliance partners like the SACP and SANCO who have not been satisfied with Chirwa’s leadership since he took power in 2016 when former leader Vusi Shongwe left to become provincial treasurer.
The Tsipane bloc favours deputy regional chairman Vusi Motha who is also mayor of Mkhondo and wants him to succeed Chirwa at the party’s regional congress in mid-2020 and for Nhlabathi to be the secretary.
But the grouping wants this to start occurring at the special RGC this year where they push for Nhlabathi to contest the vacant secretarial post left when Audrey Maleka got elected to Parliament’s council of provinces.
Here, Chirwa is on the other side and prefers deputy regional secretary Lindi Masina as secretary and REC member Trevor Nkosi to be her deputy.
Nhlabathi told this paper that the Chirwa group in the region was now realising that the branches were speaking a different language because of being fed up.
He said division in the region began after Shongwe – who was regional chair – left the region to go to province and after that he said they “started seeing the true characters of some of the leaders” in Gert Sibande and such continued while “springing out” the whole region.
“After the true characters of those comrades began to show the ANC started to suffer a serious disunity, and the division spread out the whole region, the unhappiness everywhere, and to a point that those comrades who were deployed to positions of power in the municipalities or in any deployment began to think that they could now be able to form their own ANC that will continue to ensure they cling to those positions”.
Nhlabathi spoke to this paper on the sidelines of the memorial service of Shongwe’s younger brother Bheki Shongwe in Breyten Thursday 14 November. Bheki was a local political activist and was suddenly ambushed by an illness and died at a Gauteng hospital ICU the beginning of this week. He will be laid to rest on 16 November 2019.
Nhlabathi said his campaign is based on party values and principles and the need for the renewal of the ANC as well as crushing “selfish” gatekeepers and restoring the lost Gert Sibande trust.
Chirwa is an ally of provincial acting chairman Mandla Ndlovu who are frontliners for the chairpersonship race together with Tsipane.
“Once those who are deployed begin to understand that the only centre is the ANC and that the ANC cannot be expected to follow those who are deployed by it, instead those comrades, the councillors, directors and others in the region, should be seen behaving in a manner that shows they know that the ANC is the only centre and that the centre must hold and once it holds then we can have a united ANC. Therefore the position of secretary is important when you have to restore such kind of order because that’s the position from where the organisation consolidates everything”.
He said what will be “basic and urgent” for him “is to make the centre hold”.
“And once the centre holds you can be sure of a united and conscious ANC that can be able to see where it comes from, where it is and where it wants to go”.
He said current challenge are not ahistorical in the ANC and it “has always been the younger generation that came to its rescue because the elders always reach a time when they feel the status quo must remain”.
Nhlabathi who once led the Gert Sibande ANCYL until its disbandment in 2012 is not and has never been an ANC REC member, but says if ANC branches want him to rise from a branch level and become a regional secretary he will not decline “the responsibility”.
He said the constitution was clear and stipulated the certain numbers of years that any member must serve in a branch uninterrupted before contesting in the various levels of leadership in the party.
Nhlabathi said he will definitely avail himself and face off with Chirwa’s favoured candidate at the much anticipated elective RGC.
“I’ve never refused any responsibility given to me by the ANC. Wherever the ANC has been sending me I’ve always availed myself, as I did during the elections when I was asked to come form part of the campaign team in the region and I do not think that now if I were to be asked to be the regional secretary of this region I will say no. That will be the first time I say no to the ANC and I won’t do it,” he said.
Nhlabathi said the time for the ANC to be taken away from “individuals” has come and that himself is representing a string of other young leaders prepared by the ANCYL as the “next generation” to take over the ANC.
“If as a generation we do not qualify to take over the ANC why were we being prepared and taught everything that we wanted to know about the ANC in the ANCYL?
“There is no organisation that can live and be prosperous if it doesn’t accept and move with change and see that certain things can now be done in a particular way aware of the time we are in now”.
(edited by ZK)
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