/ 15 December 2017

No end to the legal challenges

'When the Mail & Guardian went to print on Thursday
'When the Mail & Guardian went to print on Thursday

On Thursday, supporters of Cyril Rampahosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma protested outside the high court in the Free State while, inside, a fresh challenge relating to the ANC’s national conference got off to a slow start — thanks to a broken photocopying machine.

With the paperwork seemingly under control at last, a faction of the ANC in the province launched its argument that its Free State leaders, including Premier Ace Magashule, had been improperly elected and so should be barred from the conference, which is taking place at Nasrec in Johannesburg this weekend.

Dali Mpofu, acting for the applicants, said the election of the provincial leaders had been in violation of an earlier court order. The group he represented said there had been attempts to rerun 28 branch meetings in preparation for the provincial elections, but these attempts had been improper and so were invalid, which in turn invalidated the choice of the provincial leaders.

As with previous similar challenges, the ANC itself supported those who opposed the application.

When the Mail & Guardian went to print on Thursday, several other legal challenges concerning the conference remained unresolved, with the promise of more to come from disgruntled groups scattered around the country.

In North West, a group who want to have 40 branch meetings set aside were expecting judgment in their high court application to be delivered on Friday, but they had no assurances that would happen.

Legal challenges in the Bojanala region in North West long delayed the selection of branch and regional leaders, but the ANC in the province argued that the irregularities complained of at branch level would have little to no effect at the provincial and national levels.

A judgment was also expected to be handed down in KwaZulu-Natal on Friday morning.

In September, the high court in Pietermaritzburg declared the KwaZulu-Natal conference null and void, in effect scuppering the election of the provincial leaders, but the implementation of the ruling was put on hold while the matter was appealed.

But the disgruntled group argued that, because of the extraordinary circumstances of the national conference, they should be removed. They went to court for an order that, pending the appeal, the original order should nonetheless come into force.

At the end of November, the high court reserved judgment on this application, which, if granted, would force the ANC’s provincial executive from office.

In the Eastern Cape, a challenge to the ANC’s provincial conference there had apparently been put to bed early in the week but it threatened to erupt again before the weekend.

On Tuesday, the high court in Grahamstown dismissed a challenge to that conference with costs, saying no case to set it aside had been made. But those who brought the case said they would return to court on appeal, and would also seek to interdict as many as 50 branches from attending the national conference on the basis of voting irregularities.

In the Northern Cape, too, there were threats of further emergency legal action from ordinary party members, although on Thursday their representatives were tight-lipped about the details.