ANC may crack the whip on disgruntled KZN members

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal is heading to the courts again after the regional body was interdicted from holding its highly anticipated provincial conference. The provincial task team, led by Sihle Zikalala, is today looking to return to the courts to try and speed up the legal proceedings, with the Pietermaritzburg High Court postponing the matter to July 7. 

ANC members from three regions in the province — Moses Mabhida, Harry Gwala and Lower South Coast — approached the high court at the 11th hour on Friday in a bid to stop its provincial conference from going ahead.

Judge Jacqueline Henriques issued an interim order halting the elective meeting saying, “If these allegations are correct, and there is a risk of [this weekend’s conference] meeting being irregular, then we have to stop it.” The matter was adjourned until July 7.

READ MORE: ANC KZN members head to court to stop provincial congress

The delegates who approached the court said structures within the province that are meant to deal with their grievances have been ignoring their evidence of rigging in the election of branch delegates and other irregularities. The members told the court that not having their grievances properly addressed would generate a tainted conference outcome, yet again.

READ MORE: ANC KwaZulu-Natal conference violated party’s constitution, court hears

In an interview on 702, Siyabonga Hlongwa who is the ward 27 branch chairperson in the Moses Mabhida region said: “There were irregularities that we witnessed at the branches while we were conducting the process towards the conference… so we raised those issues within the structures of the ANC and we felt that these issues haven’t been dealt with so we went to court.”

Hlongwa asserted that the decision to go to court was well within their rights because “any organisation in this country has its Constitution subject to the Constitution of South Africa”.

Hlongwa responded to the possible disciplinary proceedings against the members by saying that they are not concerned about proceedings.

“We have the Bill of Rights. If we feel something is not going according to the Constitution or infringes our rights, we have the right to go to the judiciary. So, we’re not worried about that,” Hlongwa said.

Chaos erupted on Friday night at the University of Zululand when organisers decided to go ahead with a consultative meeting instead of an elective conference.

ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe – who was the keynote speaker at the event – was heckled and drowned out by disgruntled delegates who were singing songs in support of former president Jacob Zuma.

READ MORE: Chaos as Mantashe addresses ANC KZN conference-turned-meeting

Task team convener Mike Mabuyakhulu was also heckled when he tried to address the gathering.

Video footage shows Mantashe being drowned out as he accuses the crowd of factionalism. Zikalala tried to intervene, but the heckling and singing continued until Mantashe left the podium. Organisers had to abandon the decision to have a consultative meeting.

A report by The Star says Mantashe has demanded disciplinary action against delegates who heckled and prevented him from speaking.

Mantashe is reported as saying: “The issue is not the apology but correcting this behaviour. The province must discipline members who misbehaved. It is that simple, ANC members must behave like members of the ANC” and that what happened was “factional-organised and deliberate”.

During the 702 interview, Zikalala started by apologising to Mantashe and the leadership of the ANC for the disruptive behaviour of the delegates which is “not accepted in the ANC”.

Zikalala said factionalism within the province needs to be addressed following delegates disrupting ANC leadership that is seen as Ramaphosa-aligned from speaking at the conference.

“The challenges of factionalism and the tendencies that come with it must be dealt with and that’s what we’re emphasising. We are meeting with the national officials today to map out a plan going forward which will include addressing such issues.”

When asked if the charges against former president Jacob Zuma’s are the reason behind the divisions in the party in the province, Zikalala refuted these claims and said divisions emerged “back in 2015 at the provincial conference of the ANC and that’s what we must address.”

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