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ANC calls for unity in party’s Ethekwini region

Thousands of ANC members packed the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium at Claremont in Durban for the eThekwini region’s celebration of the party’s 104 years of existence.

The eThekwini region has experienced infighting and controversy leading up to the election of its current Chairperson Zandile Gumede.

Some disgruntled members have marched against the party, accusing it of rigging the process of electing candidates to present the party in the coming Local Government Elections. But now the ANC leaders are calling for unity.

At the end of 2015, Gumede became the first woman to lead eThekwini region when she defeated former eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo, who is also provincial chairperson of the South African Communist Party.

At the rally, Gumede and Nxumalo shared the stage in display of unity. In his address, the party’s KwaZulu-Natal Chair Sihle Zikalala condemned recent incidents of violence, including the burning of a councillor’s house and car at Shakashead north of Durban. He says they will make the selection of candidates for the coming Local Government Election open and transparent.

“First incident in KwaDukuza, second one was a demonstration in the south; I think it was around eFolweni. We want to start by saying we are going to run the BGM and the whole nomination process in an open way. We want to assure members of the ANC that they must rest assured that the ANC will handle its affairs in a proper way. If people have complains there is no need for demonstrating; let them come to the ANC and raise those issues. We want to caution against demonstrations and violence.”

As Gumede started her address, a commotion broke out among the crowd. A group sang and chanted before a scuffle – apparently involving MK veterans – ensued. Police and the veterans ushered the group out of the stadium.

Protests at Folweni, south of Durban, over the nomination process have been on-going for the past week

The members who left the stadium after the disruption claim that a Mkhonto Wesizwe veteran hit a girl. Speaking to SABC News on condition of anonymity one woman says they are puzzled as to why the girl was attacked.

Gumede appeared unaffected by the incident and continued with her speech. She says all necessary and correct processes were followed when she was elected. Gumede adds that they are working well with their alliance partners.

“All the processes were followed correctly. Our alliance partners, we have met and everything went well. We are waiting for an alliance summit that is going to be taking place. Today, you can see, we are having a Chairperson of SACP at the level of KwaZulu-Natal, Comrade James Nxumalo ,and we are having our Cosatu comrades and we are having our Sanco comrades.”

The ANC leadership at a national level says the party is ready for the coming government elections.

Meanwhile, protests at Folweni, south of Durban, over the nomination process have been on-going for the past week. Community members blockaded roads with burning tyres and rubble, demanding the re-nomination of a local councillor.

Now, the local offices of the Department of Public Works have been ransacked and burnt. Police say they are still investigating the motive for the arson attack.

– By Nonkululeko Hlophe

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