/ 29 September 2017

KZN ANC gives Mantashe the finger

KZN ANC 2015 conference was declared invalid by the High Court in Pietermaritzburg.
KZN ANC 2015 conference was declared invalid by the High Court in Pietermaritzburg.

The ANC KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive committee (PEC) has again defied the party’s national leadership and gone ahead with an appeal against the high court judgment that declared it unlawful and illegitimate.

The move by the PEC, led by chairperson Sihle Zikalala and secretary Super Zuma, comes ahead of the party’s watershed national executive committee (NEC) and national working committee (NWC) meetings scheduled for Friday, at which the decision on whether or not to allow an appeal was due to be made.

It also flies in the face of the decision by Luthuli House at last weekend’s special NEC meeting, that the PEC hold its fire while legal opinion was being considered.

The ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, told the Mail & Guardian on Thursday he was aware the KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive committee had applied to appeal the declaration of its illegitimacy, but warned the decision could be reversed if the NEC meeting this weekend decided otherwise.

Mantashe is expected to present the NEC with the legal opinion from senior counsel on whether or not to appeal the judgment.

“The 15-day period to appeal ends today [Thursday]. They [the KwaZulu-Natal leadership] are erring on the side of caution … They took the conservative calculation of the 15 days. If the NEC decides otherwise, that appeal can be withdrawn,” said Mantashe.

In their application for leave to appeal Zikalala and the PEC members said that Judge Pete Koen, who wrote the judgment on behalf of a full Bench, had come up with a new interpretation of a rule of the ANC’s constitution, but that neither side of the case had then been allowed to supplement its arguments on this.

According to a senior ANC leader, during last week’s special NEC meeting the majority of ANC members argued that this rule needed to be amended in December in order to calrify it — rather than go to court.

President Jacob Zuma is said to have launched an 11th-hour fight to save the party’s KwaZulu-Natal PEC during last weekend’s special NEC meeting after the gathering decided to disband the PEC.

The KwaZulu-Natal PEC, which has been going about its business as usual despite the court order, has also been instructed to await the appointment of a provincial task team by the NWC to run the business of the ANC in the province until after the December national conference.

The PEC’s newly lodged appeal is expected to spark a backlash, not only from the governing party’s NEC but also from the applicants in the case, which was brought by ANC branches loyal to ousted chairperson Senzo Mchunu last May.

Three weeks ago, the court ruled in their favour on the basis that the provincial conference had not met the requirement of being called by a third of the ANC branches in the province.

Vryheid councillor Lawrence Dube, the main applicant in the case, was reluctant to comment, but said they would go to court to seek an order compelling the PEC to stand down as instructed by the court.

‘’We are hoping that the NWC and NEC go ahead with the process of appointing a provincial task team tomorrow [Friday] as scheduled. Should this court process continue, we will seek a compulsion order enforcing the judgment,’’ Dube said.

Two reliable ANC sources told the M&G that the notice of intent to appeal had been filed with the registrar of the high court in Pietermaritzburg, where the ruling was issued.

Super Zuma said on Thursday that the PEC was still going about its business and was awaiting a decision from the NEC. Neither he nor spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli had responded to questions about the decision to appeal at the time of going to press.