Free State ANC conference declared unlawful, 14 branches sanctioned

The Bloemfontein High Court has nullified the Free State ANC’s recent elective conference and declared the branch general meetings (BGMS) of 14 branches unlawful – barring them from attending the party’s national elective conference in Nasrec on Saturday.

The application to nullify the provincial conference held on December 10 was brought by Free State ANC members who boycotted the gathering and disputed the outcomes of the BGMs where leadership candidates for the national conference were nominated.

The aggrieved members are represented by advocate Dali Mpofu, who argued that the province failed to comply with an earlier order to re-run 29 BGMs in line with the ANC constitution.

While the 14 branches have been barred, the court allowed the other Free State delegates to attend the gathering – it will be represented by 409 delegates.

The decision means 27 members of the newly elected provincial executive committee (PEC) will not be allowed to attend the conference, while the delegates from the branches affected by the judgment have also been disqualified.

It could also affect the ANC presidential election, as the Free State supported Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign.

The high court judgment means premier Ace Magashule is no longer in charge of the party in the province and will have to contest for the position again. Magashule’s deputy Thabo Manyoni boycotted the provincial conference along with several other branches.

The Free State is now the second province to have its PEC disqualified from the conference. The 2015 election of the KwaZulu-Natal PEC was also declared null n void.

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Govan Whittles

Govan Whittles is a general news and political multimedia journalist at the Mail & Guardian. Born in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, he cut his teeth as a radio journalist at Primedia Broadcasting. He produced two documentaries and one short film for the Walter Sisulu University, and enjoys writing about grassroots issues, national politics, identity, heritage and hip-hop culture.

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