Three provinces supporting ANC presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma were dealt legal blows when sections of their delegations were on Friday stopped from attending the party’s national elective conference by the courts.
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and North West will have to cut their delegate numbers after three separate high courts ruled that the processes leading up to their participation in the conference were tainted.
In the Free State, the High Court in Bloemfontein found that the provincial conference held on December 10 and 11, and the “resolutions and decisions” taken there, were “unlawful and void”.
The conference saw “premier league” strongman Ace Magashule reelected as chairperson, but neither he, nor the rest of his 27-member provincial executive committee will be allowed to vote at the elective conference set to start on December 16 in Nasrec. This is a replay of the ANC’s 2012 Mangaung Conference when the Free State’s provincial leadership were stopped from voting at the conference by the Constitutional Court.
Free State judge president Mahube Molemela also ruled that 14 of the 28 branch general meetings that were recently re-run on the high court’s orders, would be disallowed from sending delegates to the conference. These include three wards in Lejweleputswa, nine wards in Thabo Mofutsanyana and two wards in the province’s capital, Mangaung.
In KwaZulu-Natal, the High Court in Pietermaritzburg granted the enforcement order compelling the provincial executive committee to leave office pending their appeal against the September 12 judgement declaring the 2015 provincial elective conference unlawful.
The court also granted the executive committee leave to appeal against the earlier judgment, which ruled that all decisions taken at the provincial conference were null and void.
The judgment means that the 27 executive committee members will not be able to attend as voting PEC delegates. However about 12 members from the KZN provincial leadership, including chairperson Sihle Zikalala, will still participate as branch delegates.
PEC spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli expressed “dissatisfaction and disappointment” at the judgment, saying it would have “huge ramifications” for the ANC.
He said they would challenge the ruling as it “will create a chaotic precedent that could paralyse the democratic processes within the organisation in the future”.
Ntuli said the province was still ready to participate in the conference.
The court found that that applicants in the case, branches which supported ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa for the party presidency, had established the exceptional circumstance needed for the enforcement order to be granted. The order stops the provincial leadership form participating in the conference in its capacity as PEC.
KZN High Court Judge Rishi Seegobin, finding for a full Bench, further ruled that the damages suffered by the disgruntled branches who brought the application to nullify the provincial conference would far outweigh any damage suffered by the PEC.
In the North West province, 38 branch annual general meetings held in the province’s Bojanala Region were declared null and void. North West Judge President Monica Leeuw, again on behalf of a full Bench, declared null and void the elections and nominations completed at branch meetings as well as candidates and delegates elected there — disqualifying them from the national conference.
The judgment also set aside the Bojanala regional conference held on September 24, which it found to be “irregular, unlawful and unconstitutional”. But this decision will not stop the rest of the region’s properly constituted branches form participating at Nasrec.