- Four ANC North West members have decided now is the time to challenge the 2018 disbandment of the Dr Ruth Mompati regional executive committee.
- They claim the decision was part of a bid to target those linked to former ANC chair Supra Mahumapelo.
- The factionalism of the ANC in the province persists, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the middle of a global pandemic, which has claimed the lives of many - including the ANC's Gordon Kegakilwe in the North West - the party finds itself dragged to the courts over squabbles centred around long-warring factions in the province.
Four party members, including the former secretary of the Dr Ruth Mompati region, Gaolatlhle Kgabo, who is also a member of the mayoral committee (MMC) in that municipality, have lodged papers against the party at national, provincial and regional levels.
They claim the 2018 disbandment of the region was an infringement of their rights as both party members and their constitutional rights to freedom of association.
In court papers filed on Friday, which News24 has seen, the four asked the high court to review and set aside the decision taken by the ANC to dissolve the region, with costs.
Kgabo also alleged that he is being targeted due to his association with former North West premier and ANC chairperson Supra Mahumapelo.
Kgabo was one of the applicants in the successful 2019 High Court challenge against the dissolution of Mahumapelo's provincial executive committee (PEC) by the ANC's national executive committee (NEC).
"The fact that we objected to the dissolution of the PEC also seems to have been central to the dissolution of our REC (regional executive committee). Simply put, we saw this decision as the PTT (provincial task team) flexing political muscle," Kgabo said in the application.
He attempted to explain the chronology leading up to the decision, but said the provincial task team was still in office during this development. He added that the NEC, which is the highest decision-making body between conferences in the ANC, never accepted nor confirmed the dissolution.
But it's the very same national structure that is being blamed for the four members approaching the courts, with Kgabo claiming they received no joy when trying to get help from Luthuli House.
"Having waited for internal democratic processes to unfold within the ANC, we are now at our wits end. We have made various pleas and requests which were submitted to the office of the second respondent. All of these have fallen on deaf ears," he said, referring to the organisation's secretary-general Ace Magashule.
Kgabo, in his documents, raised a number of questions, insisting the disbandment had happened in an "unlawful manner" and was "inconsistent" with the ANC's own constitution.
"I was the regional secretary of the REC of Dr Ruth Mompati when the dissolution of the REC was done without any consultation, investigation [or] report. The disbanded REC was not even furnished with a written decision," he claimed.
Insiders have told News24 the court bid is purely political and not a quest for natural justice as the four claim, with one saying the ANC was considering redeploying some of its leaders across numerous municipalities.
"They know what's coming. All of Supra's people know they going to be removed… mayors, speakers and whips in council, we've been ready to clean up, but now that has been impacted by the death of Gordon Kegakilwe," said one ANC leader.
Another, also speaking anonymously, told News24 the interim provincial committee (IPC), which replaced the other interim structure, the PTT, when its term of office ended, said it had been assessing the state of at least 10 municipalities.
"The IPC was assessing what could be done to make comrades work harder and better. It's to also stabilise those areas," said the IPC insider.
The member of the IPC told News24 that no decisions over the removal of mayors had been taken as the suggestions were still with the working committee and were due back with the IPC for final decisions.
This process was affected by Kegakilwe's death - he had served the province as both an MEC and in the ANC's top structures.
Just this month, Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu painted a grim picture of the state of municipalities across the country when he delivered the local government audit outcomes for the 2018/2019 financial year.
He found that municipalities in the North West incurred irregular expenditure totalling R3.7 billion, with a further R1.8 billion relating to audits finalised after the cut-off date for this period.
Not a single province in this municipality achieved a clean audit.
Attempts to unite the province seem to have been futile as municipalities remained troubled, while factions, with their eyes on the looming provincial conference, have dug their heels in.
'Saving the ANC from drowning'
Kgabo dismissed claims that this was a power play in anticipation of the conference, which was postponed, along with all others in the ANC following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He insisted to News24 that the dissolution of their REC was purely factional, ahead of list conferences in the ANC, which picked members to deploy to the national assembly and provincial legislatures.
"It's not a secret that we were on the other side, supporting NDZ," he said referring to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's bid to become ANC president in 2017.
"The disbandment which followed was more a factional type arrangement for those supporting CR17. Immediately after we were disbanded, it was the list processes for national and provinces because it was elections the next year," he continued, referring to President Cyril Ramaphosa's successful campaign to lead the former liberation movement.
Insisting that they were being targeted by their own party, Kgabo said it was their responsibility as ANC members to take the organisation to task when it erred.
"We are saving the ANC from drowning," he said.
Kgabo also criticised the IPC saying it had no authority over the province as the courts had long decided Mahumapelo's PEC should be reinstated.
He warned that it could be hauled back to the courts when it eventually tries to convene a conference.
He said all they wanted was the courts to do as they had done in the PEC challenge, declaring that the disbandment of the REC is unlawful and unconstitutional.
"We are suffering from the same fate, the powers of the party come from its constitution, the ANC must observe the process of consultation before dissolutions," he said.
He added that this was not done as the NEC was "clearly factional".
Kenny Morolong, who is the spokesperson for the IPC, said the province and the region had not been served with the papers yet.
"We are treating this matter as a rumour; once served, we will appropriately respond to any such action," Morolong told News24.
He shrugged off claims that the IPC was failing to bring together warring factions in the platinum belt.
He said the project would "take time", but he insisted progress had been made.
"There will always be an attempt by those who wish to undermine the good the work of the IPC, to cast aspersions on the ability of the IPC in uniting the province," Morolong said.
He said those involved in factional battles would continue serving their own "unfettered interests" over and above those of the organisation.
The ANC's national spokesperson Pule Mabe could not be reached at the time of publishing.