The African National Congress (ANC) said on Monday it had suspended an activist for launching a legal battle to postpone the party’s leadership conference.
Votani Majola, who belongs to an ANC branch in an affluent Johannesburg suburb, has asked the country’s Supreme Court of Appeal to grant his request to have the ANC’s December 16 to 20 congress delayed for six months.
A Johannesburg High Court last week rejected his argument that the move was necessary because infighting had made it impossible to hold the event, where about 4Ã‚Â 000 delegates will cast ballots for the party presidency and other top positions. The Supreme Court of Appeal has not responded to Majola’s request.
”The leadership of the branch takes a dim view of the legal challenge that Mr Majola instituted against our movement, the African National Congress,” the executive committee of the ANC’s Sandton branch said in a statement announcing his suspension.
The ANC congress in Polokwane, about three hours drive north of Johannesburg, will be the culmination of a bitter political battle between President Thabo Mbeki and his former deputy and rival, Jacob Zuma.
Mbeki, who initially was thought to hold the upper hand in the contest, is widely believed to be trailing Zuma, a charismatic but controversial politician who has been tarnished by scandals.
If Zuma wins the race, which has sparked one of the worst internal crises in the ANC’s 95-year history, he will almost certainly be guaranteed to succeed Mbeki as the country’s president in 2209 because of the party’s electoral dominance.
Mbeki is constitutionally barred from running for a third term as president, but he is allowed to run for a third term as party head, a position that would give him sway over the selection of the next presidential candidate.
His supporters have argued that Zuma, who was acquitted of rape in 2006 and is the target of a corruption investigation, is not suitable for the top ANC job or the country’s presidency and could tilt the nation dangerously to the left.
Trade unions and members of the South African Communist Party are among those who have backed Zuma’s leadership bid.
Zuma has responded to the concerns by trying to reassure investors that there will be no major changes to the centrist policies that are credited with helping to fuel the country’s recent economic boom. – Reuters