ROAD TO ELECTIVE CONFERENCE
Disgruntled ANC members lose legal bid to annul list of NEC nominations
Party members who failed to make the cut cited flawed internal processes and a lack of transparency that had prejudiced them.
The Johannesburg High Court has dismissed an urgent court bid seeking to challenge processes leading up to the publishing of the final list of 200 nominees for the National Executive Committee (NEC) that will be on the ballot at the party’s national conference, which begins on Friday.
The application was brought by a group of disgruntled party members who failed to make the cut. They cited flawed internal processes and a lack of transparency that had prejudiced them.
Among other relief, the group sought to have the court declare the list invalid and set aside, and for the matter to form part of the agenda at the conference.
The group’s legal representative, Advocate Fezeka Magano, told the judge that in the application, brought on the eve of the conference, she was acting in the public interest, as the governing party — voted into power by the majority of the citizens of South Africa — had a duty to ensure that the manner in which its representatives are chosen was just, transparent and fair.
“If this matter is not heard and Your Ladyship does not see urgency, there will be dire consequences. It is clear the data is irregular beyond redemption.”
Initially, the group sought to compel the ANC’s Electoral Committee to provide and publish the raw data which had been used to compile the final list. After failing to get this data, it escalated the matter to the NEC.
The group was provided with data contained in a spreadsheet, which they said was irregular and not easy to comprehend, so they employed the services of a data analyst.
Reporting on the analyst’s findings, Magano said they found the data was “irregular beyond redemption … the data that was relied on to conclude on the list of the 200 names that will be on the ballot as prescribed by the [ANC’s] constitution”.
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The matter emanates from the Electoral Committee’s announcement on 1 December of the top 200 names for the NEC. The list saw former ANC KwaZulu-Natal chair Sihle Zikalala make a big comeback, as the most nominated by ANC branches, with 1,447 votes. This comes after he was defeated in his bid to serve as a provincial leader for a third term, and did not garner enough support to be part of the provincial executive.
Others in the top 10 most popular ANC leaders include former ANC Gauteng chair David Makhura, the organisation’s Renewal Commission chair, Thoko Didiza, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola and SA Communist Party Second General Secretary David Masondo.
Most notably, the list features leaders with controversial backgrounds including the likes of NEC members Malusi Gigaba and Mduduzi Manana. The group argued that the process was prone to manipulation.
“The challenge is that the list is final. It is difficult to add any further names because the [ANC’s] constitution prescribes that at the conference, only two nominations are allowed per province. Meaning, out of the nine provinces there can only be 18 nominations that can be raised from the floor … once people arrive at the conference, they are stuck with that list, which was shown to be irredeemably irregular,” argued Magano.
Advocate Mfundo Salukazana who represented the ANC and the commission, argued that the matter was without merit and urged the court to dismiss it with costs.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Full disclosure, or else – ANC members threaten party bosses ahead of elective conference“
Salukazana argued that the group had failed to address the matter urgently and that it was irregular for them to direct the matter to the NEC instead of the National Dispute Resolution Committee.
“Because they failed to act urgently from the 7th of December, it is impermissible for them to expect this matter to be resolved urgently and [it] should be struck off the roll, particularly because it was clear to them that there were deficiencies on the 2nd…”
Judge Shanaaz Mia ruled in Salukazana’s favour on the urgency aspect.
“The applicants became aware of the list of names on the 1st of December 2022, requested the list of nominations on the 5th of December, and waited until the 13 of December to launch this explanation.
“I am not satisfied that the application had been made out of urgency and the matter is struck off the roll with costs,” said Mia.
The group told Daily Maverick they were not dismayed as the judge had ruled on the urgency, not the merits of the case.
While they were still discussing their next step, they indicated that they would appeal against the punitive costs order, ask the judge to give reasons for the decision in writing and ultimately take the matter to a different court. DM