Judges don’t see a need for ANC to exist, says Duarte

Deputy secretary-general of the ANC Jessie Duarte during an interview with City press at her home in Observatory. Picture: Leon Sadiki
Deputy secretary-general of the ANC Jessie Duarte during an interview with City press at her home in Observatory. Picture: Leon Sadiki

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has come out guns blazing against the country’s judges who in many instances, she said, do not see a need for the ANC to exist.

Duarte spoke to City Press amid attempts to have the courts nullify the election of the party’s top six officials.

Frustrated by ANC members’ running to the courts to resolve internal disputes, Duarte warned the sooner people accept defeat, the better.

Last week, ANC member Vincent Myeni fanned the fires when he approached the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria asking for the December conference’s results for the ANC’s top six positions to be set aside and for fresh elections to take place. The matter will be heard on Tuesday.

“Let’s wait and see what the judge will say. But this business of taking the ANC to court undermines our ability to correct serious issues internally because judges, with due respect, are not ANC members. They don’t see a need for the ANC to exist in many instances. As we’ve seen with judgments over the last year, there hasn’t been a single judgment that has favoured a principle of the ANC,” she said.

“But we have won every other case that has process in its perspective, because our processes are quite solid. I think the sooner people learn to accept that if you’ve lost a conference that’s what it is. Live with it.”

Duarte said those who lost should be the first in line to defend the new leadership.

“That’s the values of the ANC, nothing else. We don’t live in the United States, we live in Africa. We live here and our values are that if you’ve lost, you accept the leadership that comes in and you are the first in line to defend it. The real cadre of the movement will be doing that. Others who might have come along for the ride might not understand that means but we hope they will.”

She also questioned Myeni’s credentials saying it was up to him to prove that he was a card-carrying member of the ANC and is indeed a chairperson of ward 32 in the Msunduzi sub-region.

Myeni claimed that the process was tainted after one of the elections agency officials failed to declare relations with ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile and that the issue of 62 quarantined votes –– of which only 16 were counted –– was never explained. He also questioned the process in verifying delegates at conference.

 “We need to be clear that as far as we are concerned, there is no such problem. We’ve dealt with it at conference, at the end of the conference we examined carefully every one of those 62 and we understood a number of them were not delegates. Out of that number, 16 were included in credentials because their issues were resolved with provincial secretaries, prior to credentials being finalised.”

Duarte said the ANC’s priority in the coming year was to achieve stability in weakened provinces with a view to get the party’s election machinery up and running by June.

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal and Free State were led by interim leaders with a tight mandate to re-run branches and elect legitimate structures within 90 days. Duarte said the short window period was intended to trigger a sense of urgency among members and discourage incidents of gate keeping.

The KwaZulu-Natal provincial structure would have to rerun all branch elections, while in the Free State a decision was still pending whether or not the focus would be on the 14 disputed branches or the entire province.

Duarte highlighted KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng as key to the ANC’s electoral success in the 2019 general elections, as they represent 19% and 22% of the electorate, respectively.

KwaZulu-Natal is split in three groups including supporters of former ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, those of former premier Senzo Mchunu and another group that supports suspended party chairperson Sihle Zikalala.

A group consisting of 10 members from each faction as well as another core group of three from each side, have been tasked “to begin this process of unbundling what had been their difficulties and divisions in the past five years,” Duarte said.

Duarte maintained that the interim leadership was made up of solid cadres including former provincial secretaries with good experience as well as veterans and stalwarts “who really won’t take nonsense and will be able to push the province towards unity”.

Although Limpopo was set to go to conference in May, Duarte said that “by the end of June no one should be out there campaigning for conferences and not in the streets campaigning for votes”.

She described the leadership contestation ahead the Nasrec conference as “un-ANC style campaign which was almost like a primary – it was quite brutal, frankly speaking”.

Duarte said the leadership would act to squash lobby groups formed ahead of Nasrec and "remain very much alive".

Individuals will be called in to Luthuli House and urged to dismantle these groups and allow the ANC to move forward.

Hlengiwe Nhlabathi
Political journalist
City Press
p:+27 11 713 9001
w:www.citypress.co.za  e: Hlengiwe.Nhlabathi@citypress.co.za
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