Pietermaritzburg - The role of ANC's national executive committee, versus the power of its individual members, and a missing voters’ roll, are just some of the issues which came under the spotlight at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Wednesday.
This after an ANC councillor Lawrence Dube and four others took the province’s top leadership to court. The five are seeking to have the November 2015 provincial elective congress nullified.
This is the conference where former premier and chairperson Senzo Mchunu lost out to now provincial chair Sihle Zikalala.
The day’s proceedings were kicked off by Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi for the five, who is often seen representing the EFF, addressing concerns raised by the ANC KZN over the timing and delayed application.
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"We are being told we have another cause of action ... but just a reminder that it is completely irrelevant," he said over the provincial executive committee’s suggestion that the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act should apply for late application.
Ngcukaitobi, in explaining the respondent’s concerns of a delayed application, said the five had attempted to get assistance from the ANC’s national executive committee before turning to the courts.
He said he recounted several attempts to get help following the finalisation of the provincial congress in November 2016, which included complaints of several irregularities and having their matter referred to the ANC NEC.
Zuma's fruitless intervention
In December, some members of the executive and President Jacob Zuma met with the five and assured them they would get back to them in five days, Ngcukaitobi continued.
"In December, they said they would respond to their complaints within five days, they never did," he told the court.
Ngcukaitobi said the group never expected the president not to follow up on his undertaking.
They only went to court after the ANC NEC inducted the new PEC in May. But, before then, they had written to the party’s secretary general, Gwede Mantashe.
"In April, they wrote a letter to the party’s secretary general Gwede Mantashe… he himself does not address the problem. He simply complains that he should not be addressed through attorney letters."
Another representative for the applicants, Advocate Griffiths Madonsela, focused on issues of a missing voters’ roll - which he was told went missing when the person keeping it resigned from the previous post.
Madonsela spent a lengthy period in the technical application dealing with a tweet containing the final results of the congress, while voting was still underway.
"No one, no matter how prophetic you can be, could have predicted the number of votes, with such precision," said Madonsela.
He also told the court that it was dismissed as a fake tweet by the respondents in the matter.
'They are disgruntled'
The respondent’s counsel Greg Harper, who started making submissions before the court, is expected to continue on Thursday morning.
He also questioned the time passed between the 2015 conference and when the applicants brought the matter to court.
In an attempt to poke holes in the applicants' submissions, he questioned why branches participated in the now controversial elective conference and accused the five applicants of changing their case in their heads of argument.
Harper also said only one of the complainants belonged to a branch while the others had nothing to prove in terms of having the authority of branch executive committees.
He told the court the applicants failed to take into consideration that an initial cut-off date for branches to elect delegates had been extended.
"There was ample time to look at the complaints and take them on appeal… many of them did, he said. Harper said there were no objections to the conference going ahead.
"It’s not uncommon that if one faction loses, then they are disgruntled," he explained of the outcomes of an elective conference.
Harper also argued against the claim that the 2015 congress took place before the mandate of the then-PEC had expired.