Nadeco wins battle for seats

2007-12-05 00:00

A ruling by a Pietermaritzburg High Court judge has given the green light to the National Democratic Convention (Nadeco) to fill the seats of 18 KwaZulu-Natal councillors who crossed the floor to other political parties in September in the midst of a heated political and legal tug-of-war.

The court ruled yesterday that these councillors were not entitled to retain their seats.

Nadeco’s attorney, John Wills, hailed yesterday’s reserved judgment by Acting Judge Adrian Rall as a “legal victory” for Nadeco.

He said the party’s stance that the councillors were effectively suspended from membership of the party at the time, and therefore also did not have the right to cross the floor during the window period between September 1 and 15, has been vindicated by the court.

The court ruled in favour of just one councillor — S’lindile Ann Luthuli of Ndwedwe Municipality.

Rall decided that the fact that she lodged a timeous application for leave to appeal her expulsion from Nadeco at the time, had the effect of “suspending” her expulsion from the party. This meant she remained a member of Nadeco at midnight on August 31, when the floor crossing opened, the judge found.

He ruled, however, that the other 18 councillors were effectively no longer Nadeco members at midnight on August 31, and were not entitled to cross the floor and retain seats.

Nadeco approached the high court immediately after the floor crossing results were announced by the Electoral Commission and it emerged that 19 of its former members had defected to other parties.

The party maintained that the members concerned had been expelled or suspended from the party at the time, under a court order granted by consent by Judge Herbert Msimang on August 30.

The dispute arose from the fact that Nadeco split into two factions — those loyal to the party’s founder, Ziba Jiyane, and newly-elected president, the Reverend Hawu Mbatha.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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