Newly-elected African National Congress (ANC) president Cyril Ramaphosa made a call for party unity in KwaZulu-Natal on Monday in the presence of provincial ANC heavyweights Sihle Zikalala and Senzo Mchunu, mentioning both men by name in the process.
The KZN ANC has been locked in a factional battle that has been playing out in court over its disputed November 2015 provincial conference where Zikalala was elected provincial chairman, beating opponent and then incumbent Mchunu.
Zikalala supported Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in her bid as ANC president at the party’s 54th national conference held in December, while Mchunu had lobbied for Ramaphosa.
“KZN is far too important to the life of the ANC for it to remain divided. We cannot accept a divided KZN. The national conference is over, and there is only one winner, the African National Congress. As Cadre Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said during the conference, ‘united we stand, divided we fall’,” said Ramaphosa.
He was speaking at a wreath-laying ceremony for the first ANC president, John Langalibalele Dube, at Ohlange High School in Inanda. The ceremony was part of the ANC’s 106th anniversary celebrations.
Dlamini-Zuma was present at the event, as were new national treasurer Paul Mashatile and secretary-general Ace Magashule.
Ramaphosa said that when he visited Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu at his Osuthu Palace on Sunday, the king pressed for a united provincial leadership.
“He asked us to shake hands and make peace. We all reached out and shook hands with each other. It was a joy to watch Cadre Senzo and Cadre Sihle shaking hands,” said Ramaphosa.
“At all levels we must rid ourselves of factionalism and groupings. There is only one group that must work only to unite the African National Congress. We cannot go into 2019 with a divided ANC. We must unite the province,” he said.
Ramaphosa said he was “humbled and in awe” to be able to stand by the gravesite of Dube, and encouraged the party’s leaders to “draw lessons” from Dube’s values, which included honesty and promoting the needs of the South African people.
Speaking in Pietermaritzburg at the Mountain Rise Cemetery at a wreath laying for former party president Josiah Tshangana Gumede, newly elected ANC deputy president David Mabuza admitted that divisions in the ruling party were “a huge problem” and said they needed to be confronted head-on.
Last month’s national conference had emphasised unity, he said, “and this time, we are demanding unity in the movement”. “Without unity, there is no ANC”.
He also said that it was important to give Ramaphosa support in his new role so that he was able to succeed.
“His work is our work,” he said.
– African News Agency (ANA)