'Its time we stand for truth' - ANC member challenging party's KZN congress in court

2017-08-16 09:17
KZN chair Sihle Zikalala and Free State Ace Magashule. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

KZN chair Sihle Zikalala and Free State Ace Magashule. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

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Pietermaritzburg – Because no one in the ANC was willing to listen to concerns regarding alleged flawed processes in the ANC KwaZulu-Natal 2015 provincial congress, that matter had to head to court, a member of the party has said.   

Lawrence Dube from the Vryheid branch of the party was the first applicant in a bid to have the results of that congress, where current ANC KZN chairperson Sihle Zikalala defeated former chair and premier Senzo Mchunu, nullified.

Dube and four others have raised concerns over several irregularities including that an official ANC twitter account was tweeting results while voting was still underway, that the conference was pushed forward and took place ahead of schedule, and that bogus delegates were brought in and allowed to vote for new leadership in the province.

He told News24 on Tuesday evening that it was important for the matter to go ahead.

"We have been quiet for long looking at things happening and they have not been challenged. It's high time that we stand for truth and expose what is wrong," said Dube.

He insists the only reason why he and the others, claiming to represent more than 43 branches, sought legal assistance was because the ANC had failed to listen to their concerns, let alone investigate whether there was any merit to their claims.

"Had our NEC [National Executive Committee] given proper direction we wouldn't be where we are today. I think you have seen [Bheki] Cele, one of the NEC members, acknowledging that the NEC of the ANC has let the people down," Dube asked, referring to Cele's recent comments that the ANC should be taken to court until it learns to lead.

Dube said this was "abnormal" and it is unfortunate, but the member tried following "normal" internal processes, to no avail.

"We must distinguish this case in this fashion. There are cases where you lodge a complaint and when the verdict comes, you have lost. In our instance, we lodged a complaint and no one was interested in listening to us - that’s the difference."

'Petty politicking'

Dube said he would welcome criticism that they did not want to accept the outcome of an appeals process, but that never took place, as no one seemed to want to hear them out.

He claims members of the ANC’s national working committee visited a few branches in connection with the matter in December 2016, but that was the last members heard from the committee.

"They said 'We’ll be back in a week comrades'… till today [there has been] nothing," explained Dube.

His views, however, have been rubbished by several prominent members in the province.

ANC Youth League provincial secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo was one of the first to label the court bid a waste of time.

"All processes were done according to normal ANC processes," he said.

Sabelo said he believed those who brought the matter to the courts had no case and that they were trying to destabilise KZN ahead of the ANC’s 54th national elective conference in December.

"They are trying to weaken the sitting leadership in the province."

He added that they wanted the matter, which he described as "petty politicking", to come to an end.

"They are trying to hang onto power by hook or crook." 

Taking it to court

Mzi Zuma, who is the Pietermaritzburg regional secretary, shared the young leader's sentiments. "A legitimate conference took place, so legitimate leadership are in place," he said.

Zuma said if there was an issue, the blame would lie with the NEC as it convened and officiated over provincial conferences.

"Those deployed to the province would have identified the issue on the spot. This court case, we believe people behind it want to undermine democratic processes in the organisation," said Zuma.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said there was a trend developing in the party, where any faction that loses during a conference decides to appeal it.

Speaking at a media briefing on Monday in Johannesburg, Mantashe said this was not due to flaws in the party's system, but instead was because factionalism was at play.

"We must allow our people to participate and exercise their rights," he said.

The SG said no party in South Africa was as open and transparent about its processes as the ANC.

Focusing on Tuesday's court case, he said turning to the courts was not necessarily a way of finding the right answers.

"The judge will be an arbiter. One of the worst things about court cases is they are arbitration, unlike mediation, [with arbitration] you are not part of finding the solution," said Mantashe.

This meant convincing somebody else to award the outcome. 

The matter has been set down from Wednesday until Friday in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

Read more on:    anc  |  pietermaritzburg  |  politcs

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