Judging the ANC by its rules

2012-12-18 09:32

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Never has a voting process been watched so closely as the one that started early this morning at the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung.

The ghost of the Constitutional Court hung heavily over the process, with officials knowing that one mistake can cost the ANC dearly.

Anti-Zuma supporters asked the court to declare the provincial conference of the Free State invalid, and the court obliged – to the surprise of many. The ANC quickly moved to kick out of the Mangaung conference those leaders elected at the conference held in Parys, but the fear this court ruling invoked, remained.

With it being a foregone conclusion that President Jacob Zuma will be chosen for a second term as party president, his detractors are adamant they want to find ways to make his life as difficult as possible, and the Constitutional Court gave them a way to do so.

ANC voting processes has not always been a strictly rules-based process, it derived its legitimacy from the fact that everyone accepted the outcome, not necessarily that every rule was followed to the letter.

Those days are over now. The court changed all this, with comrades now having to study the rules carefully to apply them with precision.

“It is an education for us, we now need to go and make sure we know the rules very well,” a member of the national executive committee (NEC) said on Saturday, after the party’s highest decision-making body between conferences met to discuss the Free State court ruling.

Zuma has in the past been critical of how the court “interferes” in government policy – like when it forces government to provide services or, after the closing of the Scorpions ruled its replacement, The Hawks, needs to be reconstituted.

But now the courts are starting to meddle in the core of Zuma’s support base, and his foes are ready to pounce on every small glitch that can be deemed unprocedural.

An ANC leader who is part of Zuma’s executive said this will now give Zuma more impetus to appoint “sympathetic judges”.

“And the problem is those judges will not be expected to only be sympathetic to the party, but to an individual,” he said, furrowing his brow.

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