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Who’s Who in the New ANC KwaZulu-Natal Top 5

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Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA) – The Taliban faction caused one of the biggest political upsets in the recent history of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, says the writer.

By Sihle Mavuso

Durban – On Saturday night the Taliban faction caused one of the biggest political upsets in the recent history of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal when it ousted a faction led by former provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala.

The slate which is now effectively the centre of power is led by Siboniso Duma, and it is made up mainly of former students of the University of KwaZulu-Natal and ANC youth league leaders in the province.

This is who the new leaders for the party until 2025 are. Possibly, if the ANC wins power in 2024, Duma will likely be the premier of the province and the rest, except Bheki Mtolo, the new provincial secretary, a full-time position, will be members of the provincial government cabinet.

Siboniso Duma – provincial chairperson

Sihle Zikalala and newly-elected provincial chairperson Siboniso Duma. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

Duma’s name does not sound familiar to others, yet to many in mainly ANC circles, the name is known. He is a former leader (deputy provincial chairperson) of the ANC youth league in KwaZulu-Natal. He cut his teeth in youth politics, where he gained prominence.

Duma, who is from Durban, was later moved to serve in the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature. It was there that he chaired several portfolio committees. During his stay in the legislature, many will remember him for his running battles with the IFP.

Duma is currently serving there and he is the chair of committees and senior MPL of the ANC.

He studied at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Nomagugu Simelane – deputy provincial chairperson

Nomagugu Simelane – deputy provincial chairperson. Picture: Supplied

Simelane, 45, is also a former member of the ANC youth league. She is originally from Dobsonville in Gauteng and she came to KwaZulu-Natal to study. It was during her stint at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where she studied law, that she served in ANC structures.

She never went back home after she got married to her now former husband, Mxolisi Zulu, from Zululand and they settled in Vryheid. It was for that reason the Mzala Nxumalo region (Zululand), where she once served as a regional treasurer, used to claim her as one of their own.

In 2015, Simelane was elected to serve in the provincial executive committee (PEC) led by Zikalala. When the Pietermaritzburg High Court disbanded the structure, she was re-elected again in July 2018 and then appointed the provincial spokesperson.

In May 2019, shortly after the general elections where the ANC consolidated power in KwaZulu-Natal, Zikalala appointed her the MEC for health, a position she has held since then. This was though it was alleged that she had fallen out with Zikalala and he was about to fire her after the department was caught in scandal after scandal.

During the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, Simelane was caught in a storm where she was captured attending a surprise birthday party where all rules in place to contain the pandemic were flouted.

Zikalala penalised her by docking her salary by 50 percent and that was for a month after the public was up in arms.

Zikalala is now likely to go and leave her in the position.

Bheki Mtolo

Greater Kokstad mayor Bheki Mtolo is the new provincial secretary. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Mtolo is the current mayor of Kokstad in southern KwaZulu-Natal and he is known as Bin Laden in ANC circles. He always jokes by calling himself the most handsome mayor in the province.

Like Duma and Simelane, he is a former leader of the ANC youth league. While his peers who served with him in the league, like Mthandeni Dlungwane, the former MEC for education, quickly ascended the political ladder, he remained rooted in Kokstad, scoring good points as the municipality obtained clean audits and delivered services.

He would later gain prominence during last year’s looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng when he organised residents of Kokstad to defend the town. It was that effort that saved the town when others were looted to the ground.

His effort got praised by eminent freedom fighters in a document submitted to the South African Human Rights Commission two months ago, which was probing the unrest and the looting. It was said that Mtolo showed leadership where others failed to do so.

Sipho Hlomuka – deputy provincial secretary

Sipho Hlomuka – deputy provincial secretary. Picture: Nqobile Mbonambi/ African News Agency (ANA)

Hlomuka, who is from Ladysmith, is the current MEC for co-operative governance in the province. He is a former ally of Zikalala who served in the same position from July 2018.

At that time, Hlomuka was in Zikalala’s corner and his region, Josiah Gumede (UThukela) which he chaired then, helped Zikalala to get elected. In return, Zikalala’s faction sacrificed the late Mluleki Ndobe.

However, Zikalala and Hlomuka later fell out. Early this year, Hlomuka even applied and notched a top position in the national Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs. It was alleged that he feared that he was to be fired.

Surprisingly, Hlomuka, an alumnus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal and former official of the Department of Public Works in the Ladysmith district office made a U-turn and contested under the Taliban slate with his friend, Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba, the former mayor of Newcastle and the regional chairperson of the Mbuso Kubheka region (formerly eMalahleni).

According to his government profile, Hlomuka holds a Master’s degree (2020) in public administration, an Honours degree in public administration and a Bachelor’s degree in public administration from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (2003-2004).

Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba – provincial treasurer

Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba – provincial treasurer. Picture: Newcastle Municipality.

Mahlaba, 41, a medical doctor who is originally from Nquthu in northern KwaZulu-Natal, is a controversial and feared figure now based in Newcastle. He is known for his unguarded temper and public brawls while he was the mayor of Newcastle.

During his trial for allegedly murdering a former ANC youth league member in Newcastle, Wandile Ngubeni, Mahlaba’s unguarded temper got the better of him. He lashed out at Minister of Police Bheki Cele, accusing him of sending the SAPS’s political killings task team to settle political scores.

During an address to his supporters, he publicly called Cele a hobo (iphara), drawing the ire of ANC leaders who said his behaviour was scandalous.

Lurching from that scandal, Mahlaba, a former student of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, later engaged in a public brawl with striking municipal workers of the Newcastle Municipality.

That came when he was already accused of assaulting a fibre installing contractor after he told them to stop their work because they were disrupting power services, thus angering residents of Newcastle.

He had been previously accused of road rage incidents and allegedly saying some members of the ANC should be stripped of their membership because they are ugly. He denied the accusations when they came up and questions were put to him.

Video: African News Agency (ANA)