The ANC was last night facing the possibility of having its 53rd elective conference in Mangaung interdicted by a faction opposing President Jacob Zuma’s re-election.
A group of Free State ANC members were threatening to ask a court to stop the entire conference from proceeding if the province’s 324 delegates were allowed to vote for party leaders.
This comes after the Constitutional Court dissolved the Free State ANC’s leadership on Friday, following a flawed provincial leadership conference.
At a briefing on Saturday night Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said the party will uphold the rule of law and “the constitutional court is the final arbiter for disputes in our society”.
“We accept the decision of the constitutional court as final on this matter. As a result the ANC is confirming that the provincial conference was unlawful and invalid and all decisions taken at that conference are null and void.”
All delegates to Mangaung attending on the basis of being from the provincial executive committee, will therefore not be allowed to attend the Mangaung conference.
“We do not have a provincial leadership of the Free State as we speak,” Radebe said.
The delegates will be allowed to participate because the provincial leadership have no bearing on the branch delegates.
The province will be leaderless, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said, and therefore the party will appoint a task team to arrange a new provincial conference.
Free State Premier Ace Magashule told fellow comrades after the NEC meeting that the committee’s decision was “taking away the rights of our (provincial) members”. Magashule is a directly elected NEC member, which gives him automatic voting status.
The NEC also decided that its members who oversaw the Free State PEC conference, staged in Parys in June, should be held responsible.
Mpho Ramakatsa, one of the successful appellants to the Constitutional Court, last night told City Press that the disgruntled Free State ANC members would be writing a letter to the national conference itself to “advise that conference that it is in contempt of court”.
He confirmed that the group would be meeting with lawyers tomorrow to consider the possibility of interdicts or a subsequent court review of the entire outcome of the Mangaung conference.
Ramakatsa said the NEC had not consulted with the group about the Constitutional Court order at all.
He said there were currently people in the party who thought they were “gods of this world”.
“[They] think they are above the ANC constitution, that they own the ANC and can do as they please.”
Ramakatsa said they had proved “beyond a reasonable doubt that we don’t have branches in good standing (in Free State)”.
A source close to the legal team representing the Free State dissidents said it was “very likely” there could be an application for an interdict preventing the entire Free State delegation from taking part in the conference, or asking the court to halt the conference entirely.
Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said a decision to allow branch delegates to participate would be “a gamble”.
A disgruntled anti-Zuma group from North West failed to interdict the province’s delegates from voting on Friday night.
But the North West High Court ruled that the NEC should consider their complaints.
– Reporting by Mandy Rossouw, Charl du Plessis and Sabelo Ndlangisa