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South Africa

ANC NEC: Future of KwaZulu-Natal leadership to be decided in three days

ANC NEC: Future of KwaZulu-Natal leadership to be decided in three days

The future of the ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal leadership remains in doubt after the national executive committee (NEC) on Friday said it would decide within three days whether to appeal the judgment declaring the 2015 provincial conference null and void. By GREG NICOLSON.

The ANC on Friday delayed its press conference after a special meeting of its NEC in Irene by five hours. The big issue on the agenda was how the party would respond to a court ruling two weeks ago declaring the party’s 2015 KwaZulu-Natal provincial conference illegal, and which threw the future of the province’s leadership into question.

After the delay, ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe essentially said the party still doesn’t know what it will do to resolve the disputes in the highly factionalised province, which has the highest number of ANC members in the country.

The NEC has asked the party’s lawyers for guidance and will decide in three days whether to appeal the judgment. “The NEC has full confidence in the judiciary and accepts the judgment of the full bench of the Pietermaritzburg High Court in the matter ‘Dube and Others v Zikalala and Others’ in relation to the 2015 ANC KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Conference,” it said.

Then, however, it questioned the judgment. “NEC however felt there was a need for further consultation with legal counsel to gain greater clarity on the decision of the court as it deals with rule 17(2)(1) of the ANC Constitution and further engage the possibility of success in appealing the judgement.”

So the party accepts the judgment, but might appeal. According to court processes, the ANC has until Wednesday to lodge its appeal. “For all intents and purposes the [provincial executive committee] is going to be dissolved,” said Mantashe on the KwaZulu-Natal leadership led by Sihle Zikalala.

“It’s not a matter of declaring the [PEC] dead or alive. There’s a judgment. “We accept the judgment…that said the outcome of that conference is unlawful and void.” But the ANC wants to check if the judgment was correct and could appeal in two ways.

If the ANC appeals the general findings of the court ruling declaring the 2015 conference void, the leadership will remain in place as the appeal process continues. But the party may however just decide to appeal for a declarative order on an aspect of the ruling relating to the court’s interpretation of rule 17(2)(1) of the ANC Constitution that states a provincial conference must be held if one third of a province’s branches request it.

The ANC believes such requests should first be decided on by the NEC. The court said such a request would immediately trigger a provincial conference. If the ANC seeks a declaratory order, the provincial leadership would be immediately disbanded. So, either way, the provincial leadership will know its fate this week.

“The NEC does not believe that the ANC should continue to give reason to the courts to intervene in the matters of the organization, which should be managed politically. The ANC must take charge of the challenges facing the movement and deal with them decisively,” said the statement.

Mantashe said the NEC, which is due to meet for a regular meeting next week, has also mandated the national working committee (NWC) to “establish a strong, inclusive and unifying provincial task team (PTT) which will be tasked with preparing for a provincial conference in KwaZulu-Natal.” He said the task team might include leaders at odds with each other. The ANC in KZN has long been divided over factions loyal to Zikalala and his predecessor Senzo Mchunu.

Mantashe claimed the leadership dispute would not affect the party’s highly contested elective conference, which will be held in December. “This narrative that the conference may collapse and so forth is too strong a narrative and I don’t know what informs that. The conference is a conference of branch delegates, he said. “It’s not province delegates, it’s branch delegates.” He said if the province’s leadership dispute was still not resolved, the PEC might not be able to send a delegation, which happened to the Free State at the party’s 2012 national elective conference.

The special NEC also discussed its plans in preparation for the December conference. Mantashe said membership audits had been completed in eight provinces. Audits were outstanding in the Eastern Cape. He said the ANC is on the verge of holding branch general meetings, where delegates to the December conference will be nominated through a system Mantashe claimed would be transparent. The party’s electoral commission, led by 15 senior cadres, has finalised the nomination guidelines and they will soon be distributed to branches. DM

Photo: African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe briefs the media at the end of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) three-day meeting in Pretoria, South Africa March 20, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

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