Zuma, NEC blamed in court

2017-08-17 14:13
ANC divisions were laid bare yesterday outside the Pietermaritzburg high court as two different camps held mini-rallies while the case challenging the results of the provincial conference continued.

ANC divisions were laid bare yesterday outside the Pietermaritzburg high court as two different camps held mini-rallies while the case challenging the results of the provincial conference continued. (Sabelo Nsele)

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WATCH LIVE | Court battle for KZN ANC leadership: Day 2

2017-08-17 11:17

Unhappy members of the KwaZulu-Natal ANC are challenging the provincial leadership election, and the PEC, in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg. Watch a live stream here.WATCH

President Jacob Zuma’s name has been dragged into the ongoing ANC KZN leadership court case being heard in the Pietermaritzburg high court.

Zuma and the ANC’s highest decision making body, the national executive committee (NEC), have been accused of letting down the aggrieved ANC branches that lodged a dispute after the 2015 provincial conference held in Pietermaritzburg.

The case, in which the applicants are calling for the scrapping of the results of the provincial conference, is being heard by a full bench.

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, who represents the applicants, told the high court yesterday that Zuma promised to respond after meeting the complainants, but had not done so.

“When President Zuma and four other NEC members met the applicants at the Coastlands Hotel on December 12, 2015, President Zuma promised to respond within five days but he never responded,” he said.

The defence had argued that the case should be thrown out of court because the motion had not been filed within 180 days as stipulated in the promotion of Administrative Justice Act.

Ngcukaitobi argued that the applicants could not have brought the matter to court before exhausting ANC internal appeals processes.

“They would have been accused of coming to court prematurely as the matter was still being dealt with by the NEC.

“What we do not understand is why President Zuma did not fulfil his undertaking. In April [2016] the applicants wrote a letter through their attorney to secretary-general [Gwede Mantashe] asking him about the pending dispute. The only response they received was that the secretary-general did not appreciate communicating to ANC members through lawyers.

“After the NEC decided to induct the provincial executive committee in May, that is when the applicants decided to take the matter to court,” he said.

Ngcukaitobi told the full bench the provincial conference should have been held in May 2016, four years after the previous one held in May 2012, as per the ANC constitution.

“A conference cannot be held before the end of the four-year term unless it was requested by at least 30% of the ANC branches in the province. This did not happen.”

The applicants also argued that branches were not given enough time to prepare for the conference.

“There was a lot of chopping and changing, stopping and going before the conference. Two months were given to the branches to prepare for the conference. On 27 October, 2015 the secretary-general of the ANC put a stop to the preparations of the conference only to change his mind on 2 November, 2015,” said Advocate Griffiths Madonsela.

Madonsela said branches had not been given enough time to participate in the pre-audit process.

The provincial conference went ahead even though there were still pending appeals, he said.

Greig Harpur, SC, argued the applicants had no right to initiate the court case as they were not members of the branches that had lodged disputes.

Speaking outside court, provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala said the court should have called him and former premier Senzo Mchunu to explain what had led to holding an early conference.

Zikalala was the provincial secretary at that time while Mchunu was the provincial chairperson.

“It is unfortunate that those who had called for an early conference are now challenging that decision. Even now they are busy criss-crossing the country campaigning for the December conference,” he said.

“They are not members of the NEC and they are not members of any structures in Limpopo but they are busy addressing ANC meetings in Limpopo. If they lose in December, they are going to take us to court again.”

Mchunu was recently invited to address an ANC meeting in Limpopo.

Zikalala also took a swipe at NEC member Bheki Cele, who had encouraged aggrieved ANC members to take the ANC to court because the NEC had failed them. He said Cele should resign as an NEC member if he feels the NEC had failed the ANC.

“They must not tell us that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was not with us in Polokwane. She did not leave the ANC when she was not elected. When some were not re-elected as secretary-general, they decided to go to business.”

He said it was unfortunate that the applicants had decided to hire lawyers who are used by the opposition.

“You share information with counter-revolutionaries. You are colluding with counter-revolutionaries,” he said.

Ngcukaitobi has represented the EFF on several occasions.

Outside court, ANC divisions were laid bare as two opposing camps held mini-rallies.

Placards reading “Super Zuma must fall” and “Jacob Zuma must fall” were held by those supporting the applicants.

The matter continues.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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