Eastern Cape ANC faces new hiccup

2017-09-10 00:00
Phumulo Masualle

Phumulo Masualle

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The thrice-postponed Eastern Cape ANC conference may again be under threat after members of the province’s biggest region went to court to try to nullify the outcomes of a regional gathering.

Badanile Ntamo and Mlandeli Ndabetha have filed papers at the Mthatha High Court challenging the “propriety” of the October 2015 regional conference in the OR Tambo region. It elected the regional executive committee (REC).

OR Tambo is the biggest region in the Eastern Cape, and second only to KwaZulu-Natal’s eThekwini nationally.

The court case comes amid political manoeuvring between supporters of provincial ANC chairperson and Premier Phumulo Masualle, and those of incumbent provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane, who is set to challenge for the chairperson position.

Masualle is seeking re-election for a third term.

The provincial elective conference has already been postponed three times due to disputes between party members.

The OR Tambo region has said it supports Mabuyane to be the next provincial chairperson. It wants ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to be elected party president in December.

Mabuyane and Ramaphosa supporters have said the court case is a ploy to derail the two leaders’ campaigns.

In court papers, Ntamo and Ndabetha appear as first and second applicants. The OR Tambo’s REC, the ANC’s provincial executive committee, the ANC national executive committee and the ANC are the four respondents.

The Mthatha High Court will hear the matter on Thursday.

In his heads of argument dated September 4, Ndabetha said: “This is an application for review and setting aside of the conference and its decisions of the first respondent [OR Tambo REC] held at the Khanyisa High School, Mthatha, on October 16 to 18, which allowed the conference to proceed without the participation of Mhlontlo [Ward 24], Nyandeni [Ward 26] and Port St Johns [Ward 8], notwithstanding that these wards, through their representatives, had raised their dissatisfaction with the credentials of the delegates. And also notwithstanding that the first respondent had been advised of the problems emanating from the branch meetings to appoint the delegates for the conference.”

Ndabetha argues that the ANC constitution had not been complied with and thus the entire conference should be set aside.

Ntamo and Ndabetha want a task team to be formed that will help organise another conference for the OR Tambo region within six months.

In replying papers to the application, the ANC in the province argues that Ntamo and Ndabetha provide no basis in their founding affidavit for why the relief they seek should be granted.

“The reliefs sought in the notice of motion are not supported by any allegations or documents in the founding affidavit. The honourable court cannot grant an order for the setting aside of the decisions that are not found in the application papers.”

If the OR Tambo region were to be ordered to reconvene its conference, it would mean the largest region in the province would not take part in the ANC’s provincial conference and in the party’s national elective conference in December.

“The applicants have not made a case for the relief sought in the notice of motion. Consequently, the application should be dismissed purely on this ground, with costs,” the respondents argue.

They question why Ntamo and Ndabetha waited almost two years to bring their application. Based on their failure to provide reasons for the delay, their application should be dismissed, they argue.

In his founding affidavit, Ntamo claims that in a branch general meeting of Mhlontlo’s Ward 24, held before the October regional conference, he discovered the registration forms of 66 people who were not part of the meeting.

Two of the forms contained the names of two deceased people from his village, he claims.

Ntamo wants the court to review and set aside all decisions taken at his branch general meeting and at the OR Tambo region’s conference.

At the weekend, the Eastern Cape ANC held its extended provincial executive committee meeting.

It discussed matters including its readiness for the upcoming provincial elective conference.

Mabuyane said the party was confident the elective conference would take place, despite the court challenges.

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