Pointless to reappoint North West PEC – ANC argues as Mahumapelo takes on the party

2019-01-30 22:26
Former North West ANC chairperson Supra Mahumapelo at the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg. (Tshidi Madia, News24)

Former North West ANC chairperson Supra Mahumapelo at the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg. (Tshidi Madia, News24)

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The outcome of the court battle between the ANC and former North West chairperson Supra Mahumapelo is in the hands of Judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane after a marathon court session on Wednesday.

Mahumapelo and four others applied to the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg to have the national executive committee's (NEC) decision to disband his provincial executive committee (PEC) nullified.

Should the PEC be reinstated, its term of office will come to an end on February 13.

Since last year, Mahumapelo has argued that the decision was irrational and blamed it on people within the governing party who were seeking to purge those who did not support Cyril Ramaphosa's bid to lead the party.

Mahumapelo also quit a provincial task team (PTT), meant to stabilise the province.

The five applicants' legal representatives, which included advocates Dali Mpofu, SC, and Tembeka Ngcukaitobi told the court the immediate remedy they sought was for the PEC to be reinstated, even if its term of office ends next month.

The aggrieved ANC members also want the decisions taken by the PTT, since it was appointed last year, including its handling of the list processes which determine who serves in the National Assembly and provincial legislatures, overturned.

"That the ANC was under no obligation to consult or give reasons before taking a decision to disband the PEC is astonishing," Mpofu argued at one point.

The two advocates poked holes in the approach the ANC took on the North West leadership. They claimed the party, during the 2017 conference, described branches from the platinum-rich province as ones that were "functioning optimally", only to be declare them dysfunctional eight months into the year.

They also took issue with the ANC's consultative process, claiming non-party members, including the opposition, sat in on meetings discussing the state of the organisation in the province.

In addition, the two hit out at the governing party for ignoring a report by its own NEC deployee to the North West, Obed Bapela, who raised concern over the state of the branches and suggested a different route to resolve issues.

"This is why we are in court today… failure to heed the advice of Mr Bapela," said Ngcukaitobi.

The advocate further said that, based on the Bapela report, it was obvious the ANC leader could see the damage a disbandment would cause and was seeking "middle ground".

But the ANC's legal representatives argued that the party's highest decision-making structure owed no one an explanation.

Advocate William Mokhari, SC, who led the arguments, submitted that the matter was moot and that the ANC acted with the well-being of the organisation in mind – not that of the PEC.

Mokhari also insisted that the matter was moot because the PEC's term of office was drawing to an end and it would not be able to take the province to credible elections.

He said it was necessary for the ANC to disband its PEC, claiming it was done to "strengthen" the party in the North West – a decision he said the ANC communicated with its structures and supporters, even through road shows.

Mokhari said numerous reports were taken into consideration when the decision was made.

"The PEC was the face of the organisation. It is not the one that can take us to the next general elections," argued Mokhari.

He said the idea that the NEC must consult before disbanding a structure was just a "ruse" and added that the party's constitution did not make provision for its highest decision-making body to consult branches and regions when taking such a decision.

His partner, advocate Kgomosoane Mathipa, argued that tensions and challenges within the ANC in the North West had escalated, leading to the decision to disband the provincial structure.

"The SG's (secretary general's) report is outdated," he submitted.

"By the time of Bapela's report, a cul-de-sac had been reached and the NEC had to take a decision," argued Mathipa.

Read more on:    anc  |  supra mahumapelo
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