Court voids ANC's KZN elective conference
Publish date: 13 September 2017
Issue Number: 4305
Diary: Legalbrief Today
The ANC’s 2015 KZN elective conference has been declared null and void‚ sparking what could be a leadership crisis in the province, says a BusinessLIVE report. Two minutes was all it took for Judge Jerome Mnguni to deliver a devastating blow to the KZN ANC provincial executive. The ruling‚ made in the KZN High Court (Pietermaritzburg), means that the 30 members of the provincial executive committee (PEC) elected at the conference could have their election overturned. This includes pro-Zuma chair Sihle Zikalala and secretary Super Zuma. The short ruling came in what has been called the ‘ANC rebels case’‚ lodged by a faction supporting ousted chair Senzo Mchunu‚ who lost to Zikalala in a bitter and bruising internal battle. The application was led by Vryheid councillor Lawrence Dube and four other ANC members representing 43 branches. They went to court in July last year to ask for a rerun‚ citing various irregularities.
The party's provincial leadership will appeal against the ruling. A Mail & Guardian Online report quotes Mdumiseni Ntuli, spokesperson for the provincial executive committee, who said the committee would file a notice of its intention to appeal the judgment within the next 15 days. Neither Zikalala, the first respondent in the case, nor secretary Super Zuma, respondent number two, were present at court. Instead Ntuli and ANC Youth League chairperson Kwazi Mshengu faced the media. Ntuli downplayed the effect of the judgment, saying that all the ‘comrades who have been deployed to government’ would remain there. Decisions taken by the provincial leadership would stand because they had not been challenged at court by the applicants. Dube, however, had a different view. He called for the provincial executive to immediately exit office. ‘I would like to see this (provincial executive committee) out as of today. They are unlawful,’ Dube is quoted as saying in a News24 report. He urged the ANC's national executive committee to ‘act in a justifiable, respectable way’, and do what they were supposed to do.
The central issue comes down to why the conference was held prematurely, says a TimesLIVE report. In October 2015‚ ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe wrote to the deeply divided province‚ warning that the conference could not go ahead. But the conference was held a month later and Senzo Mchunu and his faction were ousted by the opposing faction led by Zikalala. So why did the conference proceed despite the warning from the ANC headquarters? Up until recently‚ what Jacob Zuma wanted‚ Jacob Zuma got – particularly in his home base of KZN, notes the report. The President told the ANC national executive committee that the KZN conference should proceed early‚ effectively overruling Mantashe and other members’ concerns about the readiness and irregularities.
The ruling dealt a huge psychological blow to the faction aligned to Zuma and gives his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidential campaign a moral boost, claims a Business Day report. It says the ruling threw a big spanner in the works for the governing party as it continues preparations for its December national elective conference. KZN is the ANC’s largest and the most influential province. It is also at the centre of the Zuma camp’s push for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to succeed him. The ruling suggests that the province has become effectively leaderless. The ANC says it will study the ruling and discuss its ‘political ramifications’. It will then refer it to the ANC national executive committee. Political analysts quoted in a Beeld report believe the continued litigation may make it necessary to postpone the ANC’s national elective conference scheduled for December. André Duvenhage, of the North West University, says an appeal may keep the pro-Zuma group in power with only three months to the elective conference. ‘Furthermore, the ANC’s environment is a mess. The same problems now discussed in KZN also affects some districts such as North West, the Free State, Limpopo and the Western Cape.’ Lukhona Mnguni, of the University of KZN, notes the ANC is in a predicament as the national executive committee may have to decide which provincial leaders should represent the province at the conference and whether a new provincial leadership should be elected before or after the December conference.