Another court bid over IFP

2010-07-20 00:00

THE high court in Pietermaritzburg is today going to be a new battle field for the power struggle within the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) following a “semi-urgent” court application lodged before it by expelled IFP members.

The application, among other things, seeks for the postponed national conference to take place and for the national council to be ruled in office illegally.

The action by three expelled members — former MPL Simingayesonke Wiseman Mcoyi, former IFP publicity secretary Nhlanhla Khawula and former youth leader Thokozani Sydney Zulu — was lodged before the Pietermaritzburg court on Friday and is expected to be heard today.

The application comes in the wake of yet another postponement of the IFP national conference that was scheduled to take place in ­Ulundi this weekend.

On Sunday night, the IFP’s national council meeting decided to postpone the conference until:

• IFP national chairperson Zanele Magwaza-Msibi has been afforded an opportunity to clear her name over her failure to take action against members of the “Friends of VZ”;

• The relevant party structures have been reconstituted;

• The current divisions have been resolved and the atmosphere in the party is conducive to holding a successful elective conference.

An IFP national council meeting has been planned to be convened by the end of October to reassess the progress made in the above-mentioned areas.

Magwaza-Msibi was supposed to attend the weekend’s national council meeting, which, among its tasks, was supposed to conduct an inquiry into reasons behind her failure to take legal action against the “Friends of VZ”.

Last week IFP leaders from eight districts unsuccessfully attempted to get a court interdict ordering the IFP leadership not to postpone the elections.

Prior to the weekend postponement of the conference, there had been four other postponements.

In an application expected to be argued in court today, Mcoyi and two other applicants want the court to set aside their expulsion from the IFP.

They also argue that terms of office of IFP national council and NEC members, elected at IFP’s 2004 annual general meeting, have expired.

The applicants argue that other positions, including those of IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Magwaza-Msibi, secretary-general Musa Zondi, his deputy and treasurer, have all expired and they are no longer in office.

Mcoyi’s founding affidavit also details factionalism within the IFP — those backing Zondi and those supporting Magwaza-Msibi — and the continued persecution of those supporting Magwaza-Msibi by the national council by being hauled before disciplinary committee and then expelled or suspended.

“The first faction, who seem desperate to hold on to power, have continuosly sought to avoid holding an elective conference.

“I submit that this is so because they are acutely aware that if an elective conference is held, they will be ousted from power.

“This high-handed and autocratic approach has regrettably manifested itself in the clear conduct of those in power to avoid an elective conference and in the attempts to expel VZ supporters from the party.”

Mcoyi also cast doubt on the make-up of the national council, pointing out that according to IFP constitution it is supposed to have 100 members and a three-year term of office, but since the last election in 2004, it has never had 100 members and thus has never been validly or properly constituted.

The affidavit also quotes from clause 3,6 of the IFP constitution which reads: “Any elected committee/officer of the party shall remain in office for a reasonable period after the expiry of their term to allow for the next election to take place.

“The national council is neither an elected committee nor an officer of the party. It thus does not enjoy the saving protection afforded by clause 3,6 of respondent’s constitution.

“Its term of office was three years from July 2004 and there was no extension thereof.”

IFP national spokesperson Musa Zondi said the IFP cannot say much about the matter as it is prejudiced and he emphasised that Mcoyi and Khawula are no longer members of the party.

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