/ 29 June 2018

ANC still tied up in faction-driven court challenges

Although some provincial battles have petered out
Although some provincial battles have petered out

Although the ANC has won some of its provincial court battles, it still faces several more as its top leadership continues to resolve the gridlock caused by factional conflict in its lower structures.

The governing party this week welcomed the two high court judgments in its favour that killed off a challenge to the outcome of its Eastern Cape provincial conference last year and gave the go-ahead for last weekend’s successful Limpopo elective meeting.

The party still faces high court challenges from disgruntled members in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, but it believes its national dispute resolution committee (NDRC) will be able to resolve the complaints of gatekeeping and membership fraud that are at the heart of the disputes in the two provinces.

On Monday, the Johannesburg high court dismissed an application by four ANC members from Port Elizabeth to compel the party to implement the recommendations of the commission, headed by S’bu Ndebele, that found the outcome of last year’s provincial conference to have been irregular.

At the weekend, the high court in Johannesburg also dismissed, with costs, an application by three members from Limpopo to have its conference interdicted.

READ MORE: Ace’s hand is a tight fist for litigious party members

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the party was pleased with the two judgments, which “show that the measures put in place … to allow clear avenues for ANC members to resolve their disputes are working”. Mabe said the NDRC had been able to “listen to members and to find organisational solutions” to the issues raised where regional and provincial conferences were being convened. He said 200 disputes had been resolved by the NDRC in the run-up to the Limpopo conference.

The NDRC, led by ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte, met the KwaZulu-Natal provincial task team to resolve the disputes that had led the branches from the Harry Gwala, Lower South Coast and Moses Mabhida regions to go to court.

Mabe said the task team had indicated it would seek an earlier court date than the July 27 return date to finalise the matter ahead of the provisional rerun, set for the end of July by the ANC national executive committee (NEC).

A task team member, who asked to remain anonymous, said the disputes lodged by the three KwaZulu-Natal regions had been dealt with by the NDRC. “The matter is set to go back to court on July 27. We are not sure if there will be an earlier date. We have processed all the issues behind the interdict,” he said.

Mabe said preparations for the Gauteng provincial and regional conferences were under way, and the NEC deployees were consulting branches about their issues.

He said the ANC continued to call on its members to use its internal dispute resolution mechanisms rather than going to the courts.

In Mpumalanga, aggrieved members from the Nkomazi region who have threatened to take the party to court to force a provincial general council meeting are waiting for the NDRC to respond to their letter sent to Luthuli House last week.

Ronnie Malomane, the spokesperson for the members of six branches, said they had received a copy of a letter from Duarte to acting chairperson Mandla Ndlovu, requesting a full report from the province on what it had done to investigate claims of membership fraud.

“We are ready to go to court if we do not receive a positive response,” Malomane said. “We have met with the NDRC and given them full information, but they are yet to act.”

In Limpopo, the attempt by unhappy party members to interdict the province’s elective conference was struck off the roll. They argued that the mandate of the committee running the conference had lapsed, which brought into question the legitimacy of the gathering.

Limpopo provincial secretary Soviet Lekganyane said the newly elected leadership would still make an effort to find an amicable solution with the disaffected members, even though their action had been strongly condemned by ANC secretary general Ace Magashule.