South Africa

Mangaung conference faces another North West/Free State hurdle

By Ranjeni Munusamy 17 December 2012

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe and the senior leadership of the ruling party have been sent a letter of demand which threatens to interdict the Mangaung elective conference from continuing and have its decisions invalidated if a list of demands are not complied with by Tuesday. The letter, on behalf of Free State and North West dissidents, refers to court rulings in the two provinces on the eve of the national conference, which they claim the ANC is in contempt of. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY/NEWSFIRE.

The ANC could be interdicted from proceeding with its 53rd national conference if it fails to comply with a letter of demand to exclude the entire 324-member Free State delegation of from participating in the meeting. The letter also demands that the Free State premier, Ace Magashule, and other members of the former provincial executive committee loyal to President Jacob Zuma, whose election was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court last week, be removed from a task team appointed to oversee the running of the party in the province until a new leadership is elected.

The legal demands appear to be part of strategy by anti-Zuma supporters to thwart the president’s re-election, in light of the Forces of Change campaign running aground ahead of the Mangaung conference. The attempt to stall the conference would delay Zuma’s re-election and give those opposed to his second term time to regroup and mobilise against him. 

The letter of demand, by Sandton law firm Kwinana & Partners Inc., representing Free State dissidents, has been sent to ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe and the other senior officials of the party, the national executive committee and the electoral commission. The ANC has until 12pm on Tuesday to comply with demand or face the prospect of being interdicted from continuing with the Mangaung meeting and have the national conference decisions “be declared invalid, void and of no legal force and effect”. 

The applicants in the matter are Mpho Ramakatsa, who was one of six people who applied to the Constitutional Court to declare the June Free State provincial conference illegal, and the main applicant in a case in the North West, which asked the high court in Mahikeng to interdict the outcome of that province’s nomination conference two weeks ago. 

The letter of demand, in the possession of Daily Maverick/NewsFire, states that the two cases involve more than 5,200 applicants and that the ANC’s response to the two cases “amounts to at least three counts of contempt of court”. The 5,200 applicants apparently include other ANC branch members in good standing supporting the court action.

On Saturday, Mantashe and ANC policy head Jeff Radebe announced after an extended national executive committee (NEC) meeting that the ANC respected the decision of the Constitutional Court to invalidate the Free State’s June conference, and that therefore the Free State provincial executive committee (PEC) would not be allowed to participate in the Mangaung conference this week. The NEC also appointed a provincial task team, which included Magashule and other loyalists of President Jacob Zuma, to manage the affairs of the ANC in the Free State and convene a new provincial conference early next year.  

The legal letter to the ANC, however, states that the decision to allow the rest of the Free State delegation to participate and to vote in the national conference is “wrongful and unlawful”. 

“That delegation is a direct product of and inextricably linked to both the provincial conference and PEC, both of which have been nullified. 

“There is ample reason to show that the members of the unlawful PEC presided over the provincial nominations conference held on 29 November 2012 held in Sasolburg as well as all the preparatory processes, including some branch nominations meetings, which culminated in the said nominations conference. The fingerprints are therefore all over the Free State delegation,” the letter reads. 

It says that while the full judgment of the Constitutional Court would only be released on Tuesday morning, it was “perplexing” that the ANC and its legal advisors were of the view that the national conference would not be affected by the outcome of the case. 

Photo: NorthWest ANC Chairman Supra Mahumapelo at the Mangaung conference (Greg Nicolson/NewsFire)

With regard to the North West case, the letter states that there was “another deliberate effort to ignore another court order”. The court ruling stated that the issues raised in the court application should be put on the agenda of Mangaung Conference to decide whether or not the North West delegation can properly participate and vote in the national conference. 

“If this is not done the ANC will be in contempt of court and the relevant officials may be imprisoned,” the letter states. 

The applicants therefore want an undertaking from the ANC that the issues raised in the North West court application as well as the decisions of the NEC in respect of the Free State court application will be placed on the national conference agenda with immediate effect.

According to the letter of demand, failure to comply with the demands would result in the applicants approaching the appropriate court of law to obtain interdictory relief, which would include: 

  • A declaration that the respondents are in contempt of court together with the consequences thereof;
  • A declaration that the proceedings and outcome of the national conference be declared invalid, void and of no legal force and effect;
  • The exclusion of the entire Free State and North West delegation (this will of course exclude the members of the North West PEC);
  • The cessation of any other business of the national conference until and unless the above has been complied with;
  • A punitive cost order.

Attempts to secure comment from the ANC were unsuccessful. DM

Main photo: Free State ANC Chairman Ace Magashule at the Mangaung conference (Greg Nicolson/NewsFire)



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