ANC dispute: Sit-in group declines to settle

2011-07-08 00:00

ANC activists who engaged in a sit-in at the ANC’s Moses Mabhida regional offices since May 30 remained determined yesterday to oppose a high court applicaton by the organisation to permanently evict them from the offices.

The group of protesters, who crowded into the public gallery of the high court, rejected an offer to resolve the issue without further litigation and their attorney, Sbani Nzimande, undertook to file affidavits opposing the application by July 14.

He explained that it was not possible to meet the earlier deadline to file opposing affidavits by July 5 for various reasons, including that his clients were not able to access documents they require after being locked out of the offices following their arrest on Monday.

Moses Mabhida regional secretary Supa Zuma said in an affidavit it is incorrect that it is “part of ANC culture” that its members could sit in at the organisation’s offices and said this could in fact lead to disciplinary action in terms of the ANC’s constutition.

Zuma attached a copy of resolutions said to have been taken at a meeting on Monday by the secretaries of 78 of the ANC’s 84 branches in the Moses Mabhida region, which approved the decision of the provincial executive committee not to disband the Moses Mabhida regional executive committee.

The branches also expressed support for the legal action taken against the sit-in group and described their conduct as deplorable.

They further recommended that disciplinary action be taken against ANC members belonging to their branches who had brought the ANC into disrepute or participated in “organised factional activity that goes beyond the recognised norms of free debate inside the organisation and threatens its unity”.

On Monday, 29 protesters were arrested and charged with contempt of court for ignoring the interim order granted last Friday by Judge Trevor Gorven instructing them to immediately vacate the offices.

Advocate Rob Seggie SC for the ANC urged Judge Rishi Seegobin yesterday to confirm the order granted by Gorven and asked him to award costs in the ANC’s favour.

However, he said since the protesters were no longer in occupation of the building, it might be possible to avoid prolonging the litigation.

As a compromise, he suggested that the ANC may undertake not to execute a cost order against the group on condition they do not again breach the court order.

The protesters were urged by Judge Seegobin to consider the offer and he stood the case down to enable them to discuss it with their attorney.

Advising the group to try to resolve the matter without further litigation, the judge explained that it often happened that parties end up eventually fighting only over costs, which on its own could be a “costly affair”.

The protesters remained unmoved, however, and after the adjournment said they still intend to oppose the application and want an opportunity to file opposing affidavits.

They were given until July 14 to do so. The ANC was ordered to file any replying papers by July 21.

The Witness was told that once the papers have been lodged the parties can apply for a date to hear the matter in court.

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