Support for President Jacob Zuma ahead of the local government polls was bolstered yesterday after KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu announced his resignation and the president’s ally, Willies Mchunu, took over.
The two are not related.
Other members of Mchunu’s cabinet, who were expected to be axed, lived to see another day in the provincial government.
The province’s ANC deputy chairman and MEC for transport, community safety and liaison took over last night, with the ANC saying Mchunu was chosen for his “seniority, experience and skills demonstrated in government and our movement”.
Senzo Mchunu announced his resignation yesterday afternoon after a meeting with the ANC’s provincial leadership on Friday, during which he was given his marching orders.
The premier, once a staunch ally of President Jacob Zuma, lost his seat as provincial chairman to Sihle Zikalala in November and since then Zikalala’s supporters have openly campaigned to remove Mchunu as premier.
Zikalala, and his camp which includes Zandile Gumede as chairwoman of the eThekwini region with 103 branches, is a known Zuma man.
KwaZulu-Natal ANC secretary Super Zuma said there was no decision on other MECs.
Speaking at a press briefing last night, Zuma confirmed the resignation, but refused to entertain the contents of a letter in which the former premier said he wanted to clear the air over the rumours and speculation about his removal.
In the letter, Mchunu confirmed that he had met provincial ANC leadership on Friday and that they had brought six accusations against him.
He was asked to resign by yesterday and informed that he would be redeployed by the national office.
Zikalala said Mchunu would continue to enjoy the support of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal.
“He was an MPL, MEC and premier and he enjoyed our support. He would also enjoy it as a deployed [member] of KwaZulu-Natal at the National Assembly,” Zuma said.
Mchunu said prior to resigning he consulted ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, who confirmed the importance of a provincial cabinet reshuffle and the option of being redeployed.
Mchunu said he had yet to decide whether to accept the move to the National Assembly, as suggested by the party.
Yesterday ANC national executive committee member and cabinet minister Nomvula Mokonyane zoomed in on the drama and division tearing apart the party’s provincial structure during an ANC breakfast briefing on its manifesto in Johannesburg.
“I think the time has come for all of us to put our egos aside and put the ANC first ,” she said.
The political chess game is being played out as Zuma is in the province today at the official opening of a new Toyota Hilux and Fortuner manufacturing plant in Prospecton, Durban.