President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was billed to attend the closing of the ninth provincial elective conference in KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday, is no longer available.
This was confirmed by former spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela who said, “He is no longer available.”
Speaking to Newzroom Afrika, newly elected chair Siboniso Duma also confirmed that Ramaphosa will not show his face “due to other commitments”.
“We have just spoken to the president this morning and he has congratulated the collective but he already had other commitments for today. So he is not going to come and close.
“It is the tradition of the ANC to deploy a comrade the NEC to open the conference and the TG [Paul Mashatile] has done so. The new chair is going to close the conference and set the tone for what what’s going to happen next.”
Duma said this was not an indication that Ramaphosa was snubbing the conference as he did not close the recently held Gauteng conference.
Acting ANC secretary-general Paul Mashatile had confirmed that Ramaphosa would be attending the highly contested conference amid fears of how he would be received in former president Jacob Zuma’s stronghold.
On Friday evening, Zuma’s ghosts came crawling out of the shadows with delegates demanding through song to know: Wenzeni uZuma? (what has Zuma done?). They were expressing their dissatisfaction over Zuma’s incarceration.
Mashatile and former provincial chair Sihle Zikalala said delegates were allow to express their feelings freely.
There were two dominating factions in the conference, mainly the Talibans and Ankoles. The Talibans are said to be linked to disgraced politician Zweli Mkhize, while the Ankoles are a faction supporting Ramaphosa.
Nomagugu Simelani is the only woman to be elected to the top five as deputy chair, while Bheki Mtolo is the secretary and Sipho Hlomuka is his deputy.
Emalahleni region’s Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba is the provincial treasurer.
Ambitious local businessman Sandile Zungu “duly declined” a nomination, while former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede said she would “abide by the step-aside resolution”.
Nomusa Dube-Ncube, who was nominated from the floor, failed to meet the threshold.
Additional members of the provincial executive committee are expected to be nominated and elected on Sunday.
Duma, who locked horns with his predecessor Zikalala, got 930 votes while the latter received 665.
Simelane received 927 votes, while education MEC Kwazi Mshengu garnered 661.
Mtolo, who was a favourite, beat Ntuli, receiving 894 votes. Ntuli got 699 votes.
Hlomuka secured the deputy secretary position with 895 votes while Boyce only managed to secure 689 votes.
Mahlaba, received 857 while Jomo Sibiya received 723 votes.
On why there was only one female in the leadership, Duma said: “This is something that is going to be addressed … But for us it is a historic moment because Nomagugu Simelane is the first deputy chair in KZN. The top five is not the structure, the PEC will constitute of more women.”