/ 30 March 2022

Disgruntled members threaten to overturn results of Mpumalanga ANC conference, set to run over weekend

Despite a high court ruling removing unlawfully-elected ANC mayor Dada Morero, the ANC still managed to score itself five new Johannesburg council chairperson positions on Thursday as it cemented its new-found strength in the city. (Photo by Papi Morake/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

The ANC Mpumalanga conference result could be challenged in court if the party does not adhere to the concerns of its members, former provincial ANC deputy chairperson Charles Makola said on Wednesday. 

His warning comes after four disgruntled members sent a letter to the ANC threatening to interdict its much anticipated elective conference set to take place this weekend. 

In a letter sent to the party’s headquarters at Luthuli House on 28 March, the members argued that then national working committee (NWC) had no power to disband the provincial executive committee (PEC). The members also argued that the now-dissolved executive, which was changed into a provincial task team, equally had no powers to call for a provincial elective conference. 

Speaking to the Mail & Guardian, Makola said the letter from party members was an indication that there were many unresolved issues in the province, adding that the ANC had failed to attend to members’ complaints. 

“Standing outside you can see that there are many members who will not accept even the ruling. If they say we are being excluded unfairly in a space which we were supposed to participate in and they can prove their case then it’s a matter that can be adjudicated,” he said. 

But, in an earlier interview with the M&G, acting provincial task team convenor Lindiwe Ntshalintshali said the conference would go ahead as planned. 

The Mpumalanga ANC is expected to host its first provincial elective conference this weekend, five years after party deputy president David Mabuza was elected to the national office. 

Mabuza left his provincial post as chairperson in 2017 after the Nasrec watershed conference. This led to a vacuum in the province, with Mandla Ndlovu acting in the position. 

Party members, who were calling for the province to hold a provincial general conference to elect new leaders, have made several attempts to have discussions with Luthuli House and the secretary general’s office. 

The Mpumalanga conference will also serve as a litmus test on whether the party can successfully hold conferences in the aftermath of the Covid-19 lockdown regulations and in light of the ANC’s financial problems. 

Mpumalanga is among the provinces that have seen violence in branch meetings during the selection of council lists. 

In February, three people were injured in a shooting at an ANC meeting in Driekoppies, near Malalane. According to the police, armed men stormed the meeting that was to have elected branch delegates for the provincial conference. 

The letter by JL Raphiri Attorneys states that the decisions of the NWC serve only as recommendations to the party’s NEC, with no force of law. 

“Our instructions are that they are exceptional circumstances wherein there may be an express prior mandate given by the NEC to the NWC or any other structure regarding any specific matter falling within the domain [and] purview of the NEC, delegating such a matter to the NWC and or any other substructure. Such a structure we are advised would exercise such duties as delegated to it by the NEC.” 

The attorneys said they were instructed that in this instance the NWC had no prior express delegation of authority to disband the defunct Mpumalanga PEC. They argued that to reconstitute the dissolved PEC with certain identified individuals in the form of a provincial task team announced even before ratification by the NEC meant that the NWC exceeded its mandate and duties. 

The disgruntled members also advised the ANC to act in the interests of Mpumalanga ANC members and postpone the conference to a later date to allow a new structure to meet and properly prepare for an elective conference. 

They added that they intend to approach the court on an urgent basis to rectify the NWC decision to disband the PEC and set aside the roadmap towards the elective conference this weekend. 

The attorneys stated that their clients intend on seeking a declaratory order that the NWC does not have powers to reconstitute a PEC unless otherwise instructed by the NEC.