Trial delay spikes rebels’ guns

Not United: ANC NEC member Bheki Cele, Jackson Mthembu, former KZN premier Senzo Mchunu, provincial chair Sihle Zikalala and Joe Paahla at the ANC eThekwini Regional Conference in 2015. (Rajesh Jantilal/M&G)

Not United: ANC NEC member Bheki Cele, Jackson Mthembu, former KZN premier Senzo Mchunu, provincial chair Sihle Zikalala and Joe Paahla at the ANC eThekwini Regional Conference in 2015. (Rajesh Jantilal/M&G)

Rebel ANC branches in KwaZulu-Natal seeking to force a rerun of the November 2015 provincial conference first face a trial within a trial before the case — set down for Wednesday — can be heard.

ANC provincial secretary Super Zuma, whose election along with chairperson Sihle Zikalala is being challenged, has filed a motion to have “new allegations” contained in the supporting affidavits filed in court by the branches struck from the case.

Zuma’s motion, filed on August 2, asks the court to set aside the bulk of the additional issues raised by ANC Vryheid councillor Lawrence Dube and four other ANC members representing 43 branches who went to court last June to ask for the rerun.

It argues that, instead of providing further detail, the applicants have introduced fresh issues, including a challenge to the conference date and the ratification of the result by the ANC national executive committee.

Zuma’s motion asks that the additional issues be struck from the case. This week he declined to comment on the motion, which will have to be dealt with before the matter, set down for three days, can be argued, in effect ensuring that there will be no decision on the application before the ANC’s elective national conference in December.

Zuma said on Wednesday: “Our lawyers are ready to proceed on August 16.”

The application to unseat Zuma, Zikalala and the rest of the provincial executive elected at the conference was brought by Dube, a supporter of ousted chairperson and Premier Senzo Mchunu and representatives of 43 ANC branches loyal to him.

They claim in court papers that the voters’ roll was manipulated to favour branches that backed Zuma and Zikalala, who ran together on a slate opposing Mchunu. They also claimed delegates from branches backing Mchunu, including Dube’s branch, had been prevented from attending the conference and voting.

Dube and fellow applicants Sibahle Zikalala, Martin Mzangwa, Mzweni Ngcobo and Lindiwe Buthelezi say the results were tweeted on the @myANC Twitter handle while voting was in progress and that the outcome had been predetermined by officials loyal to the “ZikaZuma” slate.

They also argued that the holding of the conference ahead of schedule was irregular, because it should have been requested by at least one-third of the province’s branches. They further argued that less than the 70% of the province’s 268 ANC branches required to hold conference had been present for the elective process.

Sithembiso Mshengu, the spokesperson for the applicants, was not aware of the contents of Zuma’s motion, but said they were ready to go ahead on Wednesday.

The challenge to the current KwaZulu-Natal leadership, whose backing is crucial to the presidential campaign of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the AU commision chair and former wife of President Jacob Zuma, does not end with this week’s court case.

Leaders of four ANC KwaZulu-Natal regions suspended or closed down by the province since their election have appealed to Luthuli House, asking that they be reinstated and that they be given back their administrative powers.

The leadership of three regions — Lower South Coast, Harry Gwala and Far North — has been suspended, and a fourth, eMalahleni, has been dissolved.

Although Zuma downplayed the interventions as administrative and for the good of the party’s branches and municipalities, the ousted leaders claim these are politically motivated and aimed at closing potential support bases for a campaign to elect Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC president.

They also see the move as aimed at manipulating the outcome of the regional conferences to be held in the province ahead of December.

Zuma said the regions had been “delegated powers” by the province, which was “obligated” to take over the running of dysfunctional regions and “assist” branches, which were now “very grateful” for the interventions.

Mzwandile Mkhwanazi, the secretary of the Lower South Coast region, said they had written to Luthuli House to appeal against the decision.

“This is not an administrative issue. We are going into conference and a whole lot of other ANC processes. That is what this is about. We have decided to conform with the decision but appeal it and have informed the province of this,” Mkhwanazi said.

“We were not informed in writing, there was no organisational report on this, so we are confident that, given the urgency of the matter, we will get the required response from national.” 

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