The ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal leadership is on a collision course with the party’s national leadership, defying the Luthuli House decision that it should not appeal against Tuesday’s High Court ruling declaring it unlawful.
Earlier today the provincial ANC Youth League, ANC Women’s League and leaders of its regions called a media briefing supporting the decision by the provincial executive committee last night to challenge the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruling. They did so in defiance of a statement by ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa earlier today that the province does not have the power to appeal unless authorised to do so by the party’s National Executive Committee.
Kodawa said the NEC would meet with the provincial leadership to chart the way forward and would advise it on what action, if any, to take.
Provincial leaders, including ANCYL chairperson Kwazi Mshengu and secretary Thanduxolo Sabela, went on the offensive at the briefing, challenging the head office position and arguing that the provincial executive had the powers to make the call. Both Luthuli House and the court had erred in their interpretation of the ANC constitution, which Mshengu described as ‘’mechanical’’.
‘’The court decision as it stands fails to appreciate that the provincial executive committee exercises executive powers and that the fact that it is elected by branches does not mean that it is now a sub-structure of branches,’’ Mshengu said.
Mshengu said that Rule 19.1 of the ANC constitution stated that the PEC was the highest organ of the party in a province between conferences and had the authority to lead the province.
He said it was ‘’practically impossible’’ for the ANC constitution to be ‘’prescriptive on all possible occurrences’’ and that the court had erred in ruling that the decision to hold an early conference was unlawful.
Regional leaders, including eThekwini’s Bheki Ntuli, backed the position, saying they had mandated the provincial officials to file a notice of intention to appeal. In the meantime, the regions would meet with branches advise them of the course of action.
The court had declared the conference ‘’unlawful’’ and null and void after representatives of 29 branches brought the application to have the result of the November 2015 elective provincial conference aside. It found that the conference had been held too early as claimed by the applicants and that the criteria of one third of the branches calling for the conference had not been met.
The court further found that while there were irregularities around four branches, this would not have swung the outcome of the voting. It also found that claims that a Tweet containing the results was broadcast from the official ANC provincial Twitter account before the voting took place had not been proven.
Mshengu described the court decision as an ‘’absurdity’’ as it failed to take into account “realities’’ facing the ANC as a political party.