ANC’s Free State PEC faces legal battle yet again

2018-09-23 11:56
African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Ace Magashule during a media briefing about his meeting with former president Jacob Zuma on (September 11, 2018) Photo by Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Alon Skuy)

African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Ace Magashule during a media briefing about his meeting with former president Jacob Zuma on (September 11, 2018) Photo by Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Alon Skuy)

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Factions and infighting are still pulling apart the ANC in the Free State, where members loyal to secretary-general Ace Magashule are being accused of being exclusionary and pushing through their own agenda again.

In a reprise of last year’s court challenge, disgruntled ANC members have again filed court papers in the Bloemfontein High Court to nullify the party’s provincial conference, convened in May.

Last year the court ruled that the provincial conference – which was a direct result of events that occurred during branch general meetings – was unlawful and unconstitutional.

In December the court nullified the provincial executive committee (PEC) and a provincial task team was set up to sort out affairs in the province.

The delegates, who were elected at the impugned provisional conference, were also barred from attending or participating in a representative capacity in the ANC’s 54th national conference at Nasrec in December.

It was there that Cyril Ramaphosa was elected president of the party and Magashule secretary-general.

Magashule made headlines a few weeks ago after news broke that he was involved in a plot to oust Ramaphosa – something he has denied.

But the task team set up to fix the issues in the Free State was made up mainly of members from the problematic provincial committee.

“Instead of selecting a group of individuals motivated by turning around the party’s fortunes in the province, the members who were elected to serve on the provincial task team were, to a large extent, the same members who were appointed to form the unlawful PEC.

“These individuals were handpicked by Magashule,” said Neo Motaung, one of the signatories to the latest interdict to nullify the May provincial conference.

“[Magashule’s] office may be at Luthuli House nowadays, but his influence still resonates in the Free State,” said Motaung.

The latest court application states that the Magashule-aligned group had again failed to comply with the November 29 court order and simply proceeded to convene a provincial conference this year on May 18 and 19, when they unconstitutionally re-elected a new PEC.

Prior to the conference, a petition signed by more than 2 000 aggrieved members was delivered to the offices of the ANC, highlighting the reasons the provincial conference should not proceed.

“The petition served as an outcry from aggrieved members in the Free State, leaving no doubt in the respondents’ minds that they had not complied with the court order of November 29,” said Motaung.

Despite receiving the petition, the respondents continued to schedule and hold the provincial conference in May.

On May 17 – the day before the start of the conference – a response was received from Magashule.

Instead of addressing the complaints of the aggrieved members, he asked for the physical addresses and names of the members who brought the urgent application at the court.

In his response Magashule referred the applicants’ attorney to a provision in the ANC’s constitution that dealt with dispute resolution.

Motaung said that, as aggrieved ANC members in the province, they had sought to resolve the matter internally and failed – hence their attempt to resolve the matter through the courts.

“We have suffered a lot for challenging the unconstitutional manner in which things are done in the province,” said Motaung.

He said his house was burnt down in February and for the past two years he had been suspended, with full pay, from his work as a provincial department of health administrator.

Dates for the court hearings into the current urgent application will be finalised this week.

Magashule failed to respond to attempts by City Press to contact him.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe could not be reached for comment either.

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A storm is brewing in the Free State between Ace Magashule’s followers and his detractors. What should be done to unite the province’s ANC? Is a reconciliation possible?
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