Eastern Cape ANC members want ConCourt to strike down results of 'festival of chairs' conference

2018-03-14 13:58
Sbu Ndebele. (File, GCIS)

Sbu Ndebele. (File, GCIS)

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Johannesburg - Disgruntled ANC members in the Eastern Cape want to challenge the legitimacy of the "festival of chairs" elective conference by appealing directly to the Constitutional Court. 

The 11 members have filed papers with the highest court in the land, requesting permission to skip the appeals process at the Supreme Court of Appeals, after losing their case in the East London High Court in January.

The members argue that there could be "chaos and mayhem" if the provincial executive committee (PEC), elected at the disputed October 2017 conference, continues in office ahead of the country’s 2019 general elections. 

Read: ANC NWC rejects 'festival of chairs' conference report

In the papers, they argue that the "impugned" PEC could end up leading the Eastern Cape government if the ANC continued to win the elections, and they would also be leading the provincial list conferences that chooses provincial members of the legislature.

"It will not be in the interest of justice to have the matter being pushed between the High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal before it can be heard by this Court. The relative urgency of the resolution of this dispute owes to far-reaching and irreparable damage which can ensue if there is a delay and the appeal is successful," their lawyer Mvuzo Notyesi said. 

The ANC's national executive committee (NEC) tasked former transport minister Sbu Ndebele with investigating the legitimacy of the conference, after Premier Phumulo Masualle lodged a complaint with the party's highest decision-making body between conferences.  The report will be presented at the NEC's next meeting.

Violence broke out during the conference, when delegates threw chairs at each other, leaving eight injured.

The 11 lost their initial court bid in the East London High Court, which dismissed their application because the NEC was dealing with the matter.  However, the applicants argued that the court erred, as "there are no rules in the ANC constitution that oblige a member to exhaust internal appeal remedies".

In the papers, the 11 argued that there were transgressions in the initial branch general meetings to choose delegates to attend the conference. At congress, at least 755 delegates - including Masualle who chaired the event - left following the violence, under the impression that it was officially adjourned. 

His rival and then-ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane was elected chairperson in his absence. 

Mabuyane’s PEC had earlier argued that the conference could go ahead because 951 delegates had remained in the conference, forming a required quorum. 

But the applicants argued that the conference could not continue as the ANC constitution states that at least 90% of delegates must be from branches. They also argued that the credentials that determine if legitimate branch delegates are present at the conference were never adopted by the conference, but only by a credentials committee that includes regional secretaries.

"The court misapplied the rule on quorums in that a quorum cannot be properly determined in the absence of persons who have been locked out, or otherwise unlawfully and involuntarily excluded from a meeting," Notyesi said. 

Read more on:    anc  |  courts

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