IFP seniors back in high court

2010-07-21 00:00

THE high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday adjourned the hearing of an application by three former Inkatha Freedom Party members who are challenging their expulsion from the party two months ago and calling for the disbandment of IFP’s highest decision-making structure, the national council.

Expelled IFP veteran Simingayesonke Wiseman Mcoyi and Nhlanhla Goodman Khawula and Sydney Thokozani Zulu took the IFP to court in an attempt to declare their expulsion null and void and for the court to declare the terms of office of national council and the national executive committee (NEC) to have expired.

A fourth applicant, Ntuthuko Cromwell Gumede, is still a member of the IFP and a leader of its Youth Brigade in Unit 17, uMlazi. He was part of the applicants’ team on the grounds of locus standi (having an interest in the application).

The applicants are also calling for an elective conference to be held from July 23 to 25 or on a date to be declared by the court.

The IFP conference, which was supposed to take place from 23 to 25 July, was postponed by the national council after its weekend meeting, apparently to defuse the volatile situation in the party.

After approaching chambers yesterday, the parties agreed to a postponement. The IFP was given until August 10 to deliver an answering affidavit.The applicants will deliver their replying affidavit, if any, on or before August 17, and on or before August 30, the applicants will submit their heads of argument.

On September 3, the party will submit its heads of argument and both parties will discuss with the presiding judge the date of the hearing.

This application will determine the legitimacy of the national council, which over the past year has been taking important decisions, including expelling party members and postponing the elective conference at least five times.

Mcoyi and other applicants argue that the national council and the NEC, of which IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi and national chairperson Zanele Magwaza-Msibi are members, have been leading the party illegally as the IFP constitution stipulates that their term of office expired three years after their election during the 2004 elective conference.

Tensions within the IFP are at an all-time high following the launching of an inquiry against Magwaza-Msibi over her alleged failure to take action against the Friends of VZ, a group within the IFP that is said to be campaigning for internal democracy and transformation.

Magwaza-Msibi’s failure to appear before the national council at the weekend, apparently on medical grounds, was cited as one of the reasons that led to the postponement of the conference.

The IFP is divided into factions backing Magwaza-Msibi secretary-general Musa Zondi.

It is not the first time that the IFP has been hauled before the high court by its members.

Last week the high court in Durban dismissed an application by IFP leaders from eight districts who wanted to use the judgment of the court to force the party to hold an elective conference over the coming weekend.

The applicants also stipulated that the conference should be conducted and monitored by two independent institutes.

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