UPDATE: North West PEC break-up: Supra and co's court challenge thrown out

2018-11-09 18:48
Supra Mahumapelo. (News24)

Supra Mahumapelo. (News24)

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The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg has dismissed a challenge by angry North West ANC members and its former leader, Supra Mahumapelo, to the disbanding of its provincial executive committee.

In a ruling on Friday afternoon, Judge Dimpheletse Seun Moshidi struck the matter off the roll with costs, due to a lack of urgency.

He said the applicants did not follow proper procedures and failed to file their documents timeously.

"On a proper reading of the papers this matter not only involves the interests and rights of respondents, but the entire country and political stability in the North West. As a result one would have expected the applicants to bring this matter to the courts timeously."

The manner in which the application was mounted was tantamount to abuse, the judge added.

Earlier on Friday, the disgruntled ANC members expressed confidence ahead of their legal clash with the party.

Four members, who were joined by Mahumapelo, were represented by advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi and advocate Dali Mpofu, SC, took on the ANC's national executive committee.

The decision to disband the PEC took power away from Mahumapelo and his provincial structure.

The applicants had accused the national executive committee (NEC) - which is the ANC's highest decision-making body between conferences - of not acting "impartially" in dealing with the platinum-rich province.

Mahumapelo had maintained he was the victim of a purge in the ANC, following the election of President Cyril Ramaphosa as the party's leader during its watershed elective conference at Nasrec in December.

The former provincial chair was forced to step down as premier of the North West in May this year following weeks of violent protests throughout the province as residents and ANC members rallied behind the campaign #SupraMustFall.

Speaking to journalists after the court ruling, Mahumapelo said he had instructed his lawyers to re-enrol the matter.

"We are pursuing this matter on three fronts. We've already instructed our lawyers to put the matter back on the roll. Secondly, as members of the organisation, [we] will take the matter through structures onto the next national general council (NGC)."

He said it was up to the party's leadership to conclude how the matter could be resolved.

"I wrote a letter to the secretary general [Ace Magashule] and there is a proposal at the end on how we think we can take the matter forward, but because the decision has been taken by the NEC… that can be the only structure that can review that particular decision. That's why it was not out of our own insistence that we come here but we were forced by circumstances that prevail because there is nothing more to exhaust internally in the ANC."

Mahumapelo said if the matter was not sorted out now, they would bring it to the attention of the national general council.

He accused the NEC of "cutting corners" in dealing with very complex political issues and emphasised that delegates at the NGC would have the right to raise particular issues.

"Our hope is that the NGC will resolve this matter so that future NEC meetings and future members of the NEC do not have to cut corners."

This is a political matter

Meanwhile, ANC secretary general Ace Magashule welcomed the court's decision.

"This confirms our long-held view that this was a political matter and did not belong to our courts," said he in a media statement on Friday evening.

Magashule said the NEC's decision to disband Mahumapelo's PEC was based on "solid and rational organisational grounds".

"We find the comments by the former chairperson, comrade Supra Mahumapelo, outside the Gauteng High Court as rather unfortunate."

Mahumapelo claimed the NEC had treated his province "inappropriately", accusing the leaders in the ANC of failing to be consistent in their approach to the different provinces.

"We respect the democratic rights of ANC members to seek relief from the courts. However, the ANC will continue to vigorously defend its processes and decisions," said Magashule.

In an appeal to those who turned to the courts, Magashule said they should abandon the legal route and instead subject themselves to organisational processes.

"We are currently deploying all our energies to the programme of unity and renewal as evidenced by decisions of our last special  session of the NEC. This court action serves to defocus us from this revolutionary agenda," said Magashule.

*This story has been updated to add comment from the ANC.

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