The Pietermaritzburg High Court has reserved judgement in the application by ANC branches who want an order removing the sitting Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) from office enforced.
The branches, led by Vryheid councillor Lawrence Dube, had asked for the order granted by the same court on September 12 to be executed pending the outcome of an application for leave to appeal by the PEC, led by chairperson Sihle Zikalala and secretary Super Zuma. They had gone to court to challenge the outcome of the November 2015 provincial conference at which the PEC was elected and former chairperson Senzo Mchunu voted out of office.
The application for the enforcement order was heard along with an application by the PEC for leave to appeal against the September judgement. Judgement has been reserved in that matter as well.
In oral arguments yesterday, counsel for the branches, Win Trengove, SC had argued that the PEC had indicated that they would take their appeals against the court judgement, which found the conference had been convened in an irregular manner, to the Constitutional Court.
As a result, the matter was only likely to be concluded in 2019. This would cause ‘’irreparable harm’’ against his clients who, as ANC members, had the right to elect leadership in a lawful manner.
Trengove told the court that there were ‘’exceptional circumstances’’ which meant that the court could issue an order compelling the PEC to abide by the judgement, leave office and cease functioning. Trengove said that the PEC had the solution to the impasse caused by the appeal ‘’in the own hands’’ and could resolve the issues by simply allowing a re-run of the conference and ensuring that a fair elected leadership emerged.
Trengove said that the failure to do so by the PEC and their demand that they ‘’cling’’ to a discredited result showed their intention to drag the matter out for as long as possible. To allow this would prevent the branches who has successfully challenged the outcome of the conference from enjoying any of the benefits which should have come with their victory. This, Trengove, would render the victory ‘’hollow’’.
Advocate Greg Harpur, SC, for the ANC PEC, said that the court had erred in ruling that the conference had been called irregularly because of a flawed interpretation of the ANC’s rules governing the time frames for conference.
The conference had been legitimate because the PEC had the right to call it early, with the endorsement of the NEC, which it had received, Harpur said. Harpur added that there had been no proven irregularities in the voting process which meant that the PEC had been elected fairly.
Advocate Themba Ngcukatiobi, for the branches led by Dube, said the order should be enforced as the PEC was attempting to ‘’grind’’ the matter out in the courts, rather than allowing a re-run and the temporary installation of a provincial task team consisting of both factions, which was what the branches involved in the application wanted.
Both sides appeared positive after the hearing, with Dube saying they were confident that the enforcement order would be granted by the court.