Lawfare hits North West ANC regions

A series of high court applications have been launched by ANC structures in North West, who are loyal to chairperson Supra Mahumapelo, ahead of its regional and provincial conferences.

The applications are aimed at setting aside decisions of the provincial interim committee to dissolve regions loyal to him. It was set up last year after the provincial executive committee led by Mahumapelo was disbanded by the party’s national executive committee (NEC).

They are central to the fightback by Mahumapelo and other supporters of the failed presidential bid by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in December 2017 at next month’s regional and provincial conferences ahead of the party’s national general council meeting at the end of the July.

Four ANC regions in the province — Ngaka Modiri Molema, Ruth Mompati, Kenneth Kaunda and Bojanala — have been dissolved and are being run by regional task teams until their conferences. The province will also elect a new provincial executive committee when it holds its conference.

Mahumapelo is expected to stand for re-election at the provincial conference.

On Wednesday, an application by the Ngaka Modiri Molema regional executive committee to have the provincial interim committee decision to dissolve it and replace it with a regional task team set aside, failed in the high court in Johannesburg.

The court ruled that the regional executive committee did not have locus standi in the matter and that its aggrieved members should have brought the application in their individual capacities as party members, rather than as a structure.

A second region, Bojanala, has filed an application in the high court in Mahikeng to challenge the decision to dissolve it. It is expected to be heard next week.

The other disbanded regions are also understood to be planning similar court actions to force the provincial interim committee to reinstate them. A discussion is also taking place about challenging the decision of the NEC to set up the committee to replace Mahumapelo’s provincial executive committee.

In February last year, Mahumapelo successfully challenged two NEC decisions to disband his provincial executive committee, with the court ruling that the committee be allowed to stay in office until a provincial conference was held. But a “political solution” was found between the NEC and the committee, whose members were absorbed into the provincial interim committee.

Indications are that this may also be challenged before the conference sits.

“There will be a whole range of legal challenges from the lower structures that have been dissolved between now and the conference,” said a source in the Mahumapelo camp. “Those removed from office want their positions restored ahead of them going to contest the conferences.’’

Bongani Zisiwe, lawyer for the Ngaka Modiri Molema regional executive committee, said he was awaiting instructions from his clients to go back to court to make another application in their individual capacities.

“‘The merits of the matter were not discussed at all,” Zisiwe said.

Mothusi Shupinyane, spokesperson for the provincial interim committee, said it would continue with its work now that the court had made a decision. “The region lost the case, with costs, so the right of the PIC [provincial interim committee] to suspend any lower structure was upheld. The decisions of the PIC stand.’’

Shupinyane said that the court applications had not affected preparations for the conferences. “Things have been going on as normal. There has been no impact at all in terms of delaying the conferences. Things are on track and going as planned.”

The ANC Youth League in North West has also served the national youth task team — which was put in place after the league’s national leadership was disbanded — with notice of its intention to go to court to force it to dissolve youth league structures in the province.

In a letter to ANC headquarters at Luthuli House, youth league member Keketso Mogomotsi from Phokeng near Rustenburg and 11 other branch members said they had met the national youth task team in November last year.

The lawyer for the youth league members, Pulahela Motshabi, said in the letter of demand that, at the meeting, the national youth task team was informed that the league’s provincial executive committees, regional executive committees and branches were not functioning and were asked by branches to dissolve them.

The task team had agreed to consider this and come back to the branches with a decision, which it had failed to do.

Not only were most of the members of provincial executive committees and branch executive committees over age, but the term of office of the structures had lapsed, while the chairperson’s post had remained unoccupied since 2015 when then chairperson, Collen Maine, was elected as youth league president, Motshabi said.

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