Durban - Following his bruising defeat at the ANC KwaZulu-Natal’s recent 9th provincial elective conference which saw him concede the provincial chairperson seat to Siboniso Duma, Premier Sihle Zikalala is set to resign from the premiership this weekend.
It has emerged that following an inaugural meeting of the new ANC Provincial Executive Committee, Zikalala offered to tender his resignation this weekend, with ANC KZN Deputy Chairperson Nomagugu Simelane expected to replace him as Premier.
At least two high-ranking ANC officials who cannot be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media on provincial matters have informed Sunday Tribune.
They said talks in the corridors at the ANC’s Pixley Ka Seme House provincial headquarters was that Zikalala’s defeat to Duma at the Olive Convention Centre two weeks ago, coupled with the humiliating booing and heckling he had suffered at the conference had left him politically weak.
Zikalala was booed at last weekend’s KZN Premier’s Cup football tournament held at Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg, which left him in an untenable position.
“There is a feeling that it is best to allow the Premier to vacate the position in order to allow the movement to start a new chapter after the conference."
“It doesn’t seem likely that he would still be in the position by the end of the week,” the source said.
The other informant said that the consensus within the party’s ranks was that the ANC's provincial deputy chairperson, Nomagugu Simelane, would be the ideal candidate to replace Zikalala, effectively becoming the first female Premier of KwaZulu-Natal.
Simelane is currently the Health MEC.
The high-ranking source said that it would be too predictable to have Duma emerge as the new Premier.
He added that Simelane becoming Premier would also allow former Newcastle Local Municipality mayor Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba who was elected as ANC KZN's treasurer, a qualified medical doctor, to take on the role of Health MEC in the province.
Mahlaba, popularly known by his clan name Junda, was on the same “Taliban” slate as Simelane ahead of the provincial conference and their appointments as Premier and Health MEC would be seen as a mark of the faction quickly asserting their authority.
This assertion of power would be especially telling given that Duma is also widely expected to be named the new MEC for Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs (Edtea), putting him in charge of provincial government operations.
The Edtea portfolio is currently headed by MEC Ravi Pillay.
“As you know, we have a provincial treasurer who is a medical doctor, so it can’t be that such a person doesn’t have a job in the provincial cabinet,” said the high-ranking source.