/ 10 October 2022

Boost for ANC Eastern Cape chairperson Oscar Mabuyane after court rescinds conference order

Gettyimages 809237208 (1) Oscar Mabuyane
ANC Eastern Cape chairperson Oscar Mabuyane. (Photo by Masi Losi/ The Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

An order issued by the High Court setting aside the outcome of the ANC’s RW Rubasana regional conference in East London earlier this year has been rescinded by the court.

The order by Judge Igna Stretch last Tuesday had declared the conference unlawful and nullified the outcome of 37 subsequent branch general meetings (BGM) held between February and March.

The earlier ruling would have had serious implications for the outcome of the provincial conference in May which elected Oscar Mabuyane as ANC Eastern Cape chairperson as the nullified BGMs elected delegates who voted at the elective conference as part of the preparatory process.

Mabuyane is a key ally of president Cyril Ramaphosa and is central to the Eastern Cape, one of the ANC’s largest voting blocs, backing the incumbent for a second term as party president and president of the country.

Mabuyane, who is serving his second term as provincial chairperson, is hoping to stand as ANC deputy president at the party’s elective conference in December.

ANC Eastern Cape spokesperson Gift Ngqondi confirmed that the order – issued unopposed last Tuesday – had been rescinded by the High Court on Friday, after the party’s lawyers had written to the judge questioning the decision and asking for reasons for it.

“Our lawyers approached the courts to have the order rescinded on a number of grounds. Among these was that the order was issued unopposed when, in fact, our legal team was opposing several other related applications in court,” Ngqondi said.

“We are awaiting a copy of the rescission order from the court.”

Last week, the ANC’S lawyer Ngqiqo Sakhela wrote to the registrar of the East London Circuit Court asking for reasons for granting the order unopposed to the five applicants, who are led by the ANC Youth League’s regional secretary, Ondela Sokomani, when the matter was being opposed by his clients.

Sokomani and his colleagues had earlier tried to stop the regional conference from going ahead and failed.

They then filed the application to have the outcome of the conference – and that of the BGMs run by the regional executive committee elected at it – nullified.

Sakhela said the order in Sokomani’s favour had been granted unopposed, despite “opposing papers having long been filed” by the clients.

There was also a pending application to have an amended notice of motion by Sokomani’s lawyers declared irregular, which should have been dealt with before any order was granted, he said.

Sakhela said in his letter that provision of reasons for a judgment was an integral part of any litigant’s right of access to the court in terms of section 34 of the Constitution.

“The respondents request reasons for the judgment or order granted on 4 October 2022. The reasons, when given, will afford the respondents the opportunity to determine what remedies they have at their disposal,” Sakhela said.

A spokesperson for the applicants confirmed they had been informed about the order being rescinded but that they had not received any formal communication from the court.

“We are not sure how a court order can have been rescinded without any party making a formal rescission application. We are waiting to hear further and will then decide what we do,” the spokesperson said.