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Court dismisses application to postpone conference

By unknown | Dec 07, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Eric Naki

An attempt to stop the ANC national conference from going ahead failed when the Johannesburg high court dismissed an application yesterday.

Judge Hilton Epstein dismissed with costs an urgent application by Votani Majola, an attorney and treasurer of the ANC Sandton branch, who sought an interdict to have the conference postponed for six months.

Majola, who claimed to represent himself and "many other" ANC members countrywide in his class action application, argued in court that the current hostility, acrimony and mudslinging by the ANC leadership had prevented the party members from exercising their freedom of expression and political rights as required by the Constitution.

He also said the level of tensions in the run-up to the conference was very high and feared a possible eruption of violence at the conference.

Majola said there was widespread acrimony and hostility accompanied by sporadic incidents of violence by "irrational bullies" who booed certain ANC leaders.

He said those who became victims of booing, hate speech and intimidation included President Thabo Mbeki, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, KwaZulu-Natal Premier S'bu Ndebele and Limpopo Premier Sello Moloto.

In the last three months, derogatory statements had been made against the leadership.

He said that at ANC nomination meetings and selection of delegates to the conference, members from an opposing side were intimidated and the stronger and feared faction dominated the proceedings.

As the selection of delegates was done by a show of hands at branch general meetings, some members decided to keep quiet due to fear. Also, the members were not given information on the ANC's Through the Eye of the Needle document, to help them make informed decisions in electing the leadership in Limpopo.

Majola said the ANC national executive committee had failed to show leadership by not normalising the situation, instead it allowed it to degenerate. He asked the court to grant an urgent interdict to have the conference postponed to allow for the situation to be normalised.

Epstein said Majola had failed to prove the rights to freedom of expression and political rights had been violated. He said the urgency in Majola's application was "self-created".

The judge said the court was not a forum Majola should come to as he had an alternative remedy within the ANC structures, but had failed to exhaust those.

He said Majola's application ignored the ANC's constitutional right to proceed with the conference in terms of the Constitution's section 19.

Majola said he would appeal the decision. He said he would submit a petition to the ANC general secretary for the party to pass a resolution postponing the conference.


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