Mangaung: The Free State threat

2012-12-17 00:13

Delegates opposing President Jacob Zuma’s re-election as party president could spark a meltdown in Mangaung.

Disgruntled ANC members from the FreeState have issued the party with an ultimatum to disqualify all delegates from the province from voting, or face another court application declaring the entire conference null and void. The group has also accused the ANC of being in contempt of court by allowing the 324 Free State delegates to continue ­participating in the conference.

The disgruntled faction, armed with a ­successful Constitutional Court order, have given the party until noon on Tuesday to ­reverse its decisions to let these delegates participate in the conference.

A Cabinet minister, who serves on the ­national executive committee (NEC), told City Press he was extremely worried about the impending application.

“We are in big, big trouble with this ­conference. We are disregarding a court ­order completely. This conference could be declared null and void.”

In a letter sent to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe by lawyer Thabo Kwinana, acting for the faction, they say Mantashe and the NEC’s interpretation of the Constitutional Court order “is plainly wrong and the result of a deliberately strained logic”.

Following an eleventh-hour NEC meeting on Saturday night, Mantashe said the 324 Free State branch delegates would still be allowed to participate in the conference, ­despite the order declaring the Free State provincial executive committee (PEC) ­unlawful and invalid.

According to the letter from their lawyers, the disgruntled faction in the Free State, ­consisting of six members of the ANC who managed to have the Constitutional Court declare the Free State PEC unlawful, is now demanding the entire Free State delegation to Mangaung be prevented from

participating, failing which the faction will approach the court to interdict the entire conference.

Kwinana is also asking the ANC to immediately address the concerns by disgruntled North West delegates who unsuccessfully tried to interdict the province’s delegation.

The letter said the election of the PEC “was symbiotically linked to the national ­conference”.

This flies in the face of the ANC’s interpretation, communicated at a press conference on Saturday night, that only the 20 PEC voting seats could not participate in Mangaung.

The appellants have also called the inclusion of former ANC provincial chairman Ace Magashule in an interim structure to run the Free State PEC a result of “factionalism”.

“Magashule played a direct role in the disruption of certain branches,” the letter says.

“(Magashule) was at the centre of the ­factionalism that is at the root of the ­problems in the Free State ANC.”

According to the letter, it “could never have been contemplated in the ANC Constitution that an unlawful PEC can be disbanded and replaced by an interim structure including the very same people who have played a leading role in the reasons for the disbandment”.

They ask that Magashule be removed from the interim leadership structure.

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said he was unaware of the letter. “I am part of the preparatory committee. We met with (Mantashe) during lunch and we were not informed about any letter.” – Additional ­reporting by Carien du Plessis and Paddy Harper

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