ConCourt: Free State order doesn’t affect ANC branch delegates

2012-12-18 11:57

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The Constitutional Court is “satisfied” that the ANC can make its own choices when it comes to addressing the concerns raised for its national conference by a recent order of the court.

On Friday, the court declared the June Free State provincial elective conference, and by implication its elected leadership, unlawful and invalid.

But in what is likely to be seen as a blow against the case of those opposed to the re-election of President Jacob Zuma, the court “stressed that the declaration of invalidity applies only to the provincial conference”.

“The declaratory order we make does not relate to or affect the rights of delegates who have been elected at properly constituted branch general meetings of the Free State province to serve as delegates at any other conference of the party,” the court ruled in a majority judgment of seven of its judges.

This comes amid a bitter feud between the ANC and the disgruntled faction in the Free State over whether the 324 Free State branch delegates to the Mangaung elective conference should be allowed to vote at the conference.

On Saturday, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe announced that only the Free State’s 20 provincial executive committee members would be barred from participating in the conference.

This led to a lawyer’s letter from the faction in the Free State informing the ANC that they believed the order also barred the province’s branch delegates from taking part.

The letter threatened urgent legal action against the conference, mentioning both an interdict against the conference or a later review of the outcome.

But the reasons for the ConCourt’s order, which were only made public today, says that branch delegates are not effected.

“We are disinclined to determine how the political party concerned should regulate its internal process in the light of the declaration made by this court.

“We are satisfied that the ANC’s constitution confers on the NEC or the National Conference adequate authority to regulate its affairs in the light of the decision of this Court,” it ruled.

The majority judgment, penned by Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke and Justice Chris Jafta and supported by five judges, found that certain irregularities about the Free State elective conference had not been addressed by the ANC.

It found that all members of a political party had a constitutional right to have their political party operate in a lawful manner.

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