KZN Premier makes way for Zuma man

Senzo Mchunu resigned as KwaZulu-Natal premier on Monday afternoon after a not so gentle nudge from the ANC.

Mchunu made the announcement from his Empangeni home as one of his daughters manned his cellphone, taking calls from the press and issuing a statement via email upon request.

In the statement (reprinted in full below), Mchunu made it clear that he did not agree with the procedure utilised in asking him to step down, but was adamant that he remained an ANC supporter and member and would continue to serve the party.

Rumours of Mchunu’s impending recall have flared up from time to time since November last year when he lost his re-election bid as provincial chairman by a slim margin to then party secretary Sihle Zikalala at the elective conference. It was a bitter battle, with Mchunu being seen as a pro-Ramaphosa candidate and Zikalala being a pro-Zuma candidate.

Mchunu’s resignation – although expected (demanded) by the ruling party – caught the ANC unawares. He did not alert them to his decision and no party big knobs were on hand to offer the perfunctory “comrade Mchunu has served the ANC well”.

Senzo Mchunu addressing the media at the ANC's eighth provincial conference in Pietermaritzburg

That was left for Monday night, when a hurried press conference was called at the party’s Durban headquarters for an hour of attempted spin, courtesy of chairman Sihle Zikalala and provincial secretary Super Zuma (no relation to Jacob).

They batted and fielded questions but predictably dropped the ball, with Zikalala dismissing published reports that Mchunu had not let them know when he would be resigning. “It’s irrelevant,” said Zikalala, exhorting party over person parrot-fashion, as a lifelong politician with no working experience outside the party does.

Commenting on a rumoured cabinet reshuffle was also deemed irrelevant for the time being, as were the possible effects of replacing a premier two months before a local government election in a province with factional divides as deep and wide as a canyon. “Everybody is coming to the ANC, the ANC is getting members from all parties,” cooed Zikalala. 

The process to remove Mchunu was followed by the book, according to Zikalala, and it had been done after a detailed internal assessment on “the state of governance in the province”. Zikalala would not comment on where Mchunu had fallen short, although in his statement, Mchunu mentioned “six accusations levelled against me”.

“This is not the first time the African National Congress in KwaZulu-Natal is assessing government. We have used the same guidelines we use for all assessments,” he said during the question and answer session. Those guidelines were not revealed to the media.

“The ANC doesn’t implement without following processes,” he said. There were no accusations levelled against Mchunu. It was an assessment report, said Zikalala.

The party has offered Mchunu a position in the national assembly. Mchunu said that he would “respond in writing to the issue of redeployment”.

The new premier of KwaZulu-Natal is MEC for transport, community safety, and liaison, Willies Mchunu (no relation to Senzo).  Besides his penchant for longwinded speeches, Willies is a safe bet for the ANC. He toes the party line eagerly. “That man is a little puppy. He jumps [at] the knees of headoffice and is too obedient to question anything.  He is just what Sihle wants,” a senior ANC member told Noseweek

While all of this plays out, opposition parties are happily pecking at the spoils of the internal strife. The EFF’s Floyd Shivambu was in Durban last week and Julius Malema has a three-day blitz planned this weekend. Although still miniscule in numbers compared to ANC or DA supporters, Long-term ANC voters of all ages are happily donning red berets in Zuma’s heartland.

The Democratic Alliance is also eagerly working to soak up unhappy Mchunu and ANC supporters on the ground, slowly chipping away at bread-and-butter ANC voters, particularly in eThekwini, where they enjoy their biggest voting base.

Although they say they haven’t approached Mchunu to join them, provincial DA leader Zwakele Mncwango told Noseweek they would be “happy to engage with [Mchunu] as we would with any other leader who has proven himself as promoting clean, transparent and accountable government”.
“Politics is politics,” said Mncwango. “The DA is not a party of gatekeepers.”

It is certain though, that Mchunu would not be willing to engage with them.  While happy to work with the Democratic Alliance in matters of bettering the province – as his position required -  he said at the elective conference in November that the DA’s efforts of seeking power by deploying black people into strategic positions had not yielded meaningful results.

“In reality they can never change what they are – which is characterised by parasitic politics of parading black people while unashamedly [propounding] the agenda of the privileged.”

Full statement released by Senzo Mchunu on his resignation

Statement on current developments regarding planned changes in the KZN GOV.

I assume that some finality would have been expected following, call it media speculation over the weekend and today and the statement by the Prov. Secretary of the ANC in KZN about planned changes in the Prov. Government.

Firstly there is great need to correct some of the statements thus far made by various people  so that they reflect the truth as opposed to creative speculations and views  from “sources”

It is true that last Friday morning we held a meeting at the Prov. office with the leadership at their request
All statements made so far about my reaction to what was discussed at that meeting are not true.

All statements I have seen about my absence from the national prayer yesterday are not true.

Neither I nor my family have made any statement or “demand” regarding the management of the current situation. I have however had a chat with the Secretary General on the matter and raised my reservations about its management specifically the role of Head Office in it.

Secondly I want to confirm the said meeting with Provincial Leadership on Friday in which three issues in the main came up:

• Six (6) accusations that were levelled against me, I did see at least two of them on TV later during the weekend;

• The issue of my resignation by today and redeployment;

• The request that I cooperate On Saturday I did call the Secretary General, Cde Gwede Mantashe to consolidate my understanding of what was unfolding. I was among other things, driven by the feeling that dignity, integrity and fairness are always important in circumstances of this nature more so where it has to do with ANC internal processes. I felt the need to clarify certain issues and contribute in this after I observed what was unfolding in the media.

On Sunday the Secretary General did communicate with me in the main, on deployment. Firstly he gave me full background on the processes from the Province to the NEC and later to the NWC. He specifically explained the decision to me to allow Provincial Government reshuffle and their intention deployment to the National Assembly.

I will cooperate with the decision of the NWC on all detail and will respond in writing on the issue of redeployment.

At this stage I wish to express my appreciations to the ANC Nationally, Provincially and to all ANC structures, including the Alliance for the opportunity to serve the public in various capacities. While I served as MEC for Education and later as Premier I enjoyed support from all of them and the public at large. Ngokukhethekile ngithanda ukuhalalisa ngokubambisana nokusekwa esikutholile eSilweni samaBandla,  unwele olude Silo. I also want to thank all the parties and their Leaders in the Legislature.

We encouraged that government work for the people and deliver, we spared no effort on good and clean governance, our record speaks for itself. We made great efforts in maintaining high level performance, accountability and integrity.

Thank You

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