Judgment reserved in Free State ANC case

2012-11-29 20:01
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Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court reserved judgment on Thursday in a challenge by ANC Free State members to the validity of the party's provincial executive committee (PEC).

Dali Mpofu, for the members, rounded off an afternoon of argument by submitting that if the results of just one province were tainted "then surely that must have a ripple effect on democracy".

He asked the court to declare what had happened in the Free State as unlawful and void, and that the PEC be replaced by an interim structure.

This structure would be in office for three months and would "at face value" have the powers of an ordinary PEC, Mpofu submitted.

It would also have to involve elements of both "warring factions".

This would mean it could attend the ANC's elective conference in Mangaung in December.

Earlier, the court heard a denial by the ANC that the group's complaints had been ignored.

The justices asked where in the ANC's submissions they would find evidence of how complaints of manipulation of important branch meetings had been resolved.

"The report [on the complaints] might not suffice, because it does not go into sufficient details, but one gets the scheme of what the complaints were," said ANC counsel Terry Motau SC.

The court heard that the complaints were submitted to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe by Free State provincial secretary Sibongile Besani.

The case being heard by the court was brought by a group led by Free State member Mpho Ramakatsa and five others, who want the PEC dissolved, claiming that the election process at branch level, where it was decided who would go to the provincial conference to vote on the new PEC, was "tainted" with irregularities.

Earlier, the court heard allegations of "parallel branches" being formed, gangsterism and criminal activities to fund the parallel branches, and irregularities with branch audits and attendance registers.

Delegates are chosen from the PEC to attend the ANC's national elective conference in December, where the party's new leadership is chosen.

The matter is being heard on the eve of the ANC's deadline for nominations for its elective conference in Mangaung in December.

Motau said of the 65 examples of complaints given by the applicants, 50 had been addressed.

He said two separate audits were undertaken in the Free State by the ANC. One was before the PEC's election, and another was afterwards, ahead of the national elective conference.

Majel Wessels, counsel for Free State premier Ace Magashule and the PEC, told the court there was nothing to doubt the bona fides of the task team sent to the Free State to investigate the complaints.

Wessels said the team was made up of "very senior and prominent" and "trustworthy" NEC members.

"To have questioned them on exactly what they did would have been humiliating," he said.

The applicants had made allegations, in their court papers, which had not been specifically met or denied, and there was not enough time to go to each branch and check if they had all been addressed.

- SAPA
Read more on:    anc  |  ace magashule  |  dali mpofu  |  bloemfontein  |  mangaung 2012  |  politics
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