ANC scrambles to avoid court action by unhappy members
Disgruntled ANC members in the Eastern Cape and the Free State have been left disappointed after a special sitting of the ANC national executive committee decided to endorse the provincial leaderships they are disputing.
Unhappy party members in Gauteng will also feel aggrieved that a special sitting of the national executive committee has allowed the holding of regional conferences this weekend despite their pleas to have these stopped.
This means that party can brace itself for more legal action‚ even though it is desperately trying to avoid internal disputes being resolved by the courts.
Spokesperson Pule Mabe hinted on Tuesday that members who keep taking the party to court without exhausting all internal processes could open themselves up to disciplinary action.
“You have to demonstrate that you have exhausted all internal processes before you go there. If you don’t‚ we then have to call you through the necessary disciplinary structures to establish why you took such action. If you have lost confidence in the internal processes of the ANC‚ why are you still a member?” he asked.
Party members have gone to court to challenge the election of a provincial executive in the Free State that is aligned to ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. There is also an ongoing court challenge to the election of provincial leadership in the Eastern Cape at a conference that was marred by chaos and dubbed the “festival of chairs.
The KwaZulu-Natal ANC conference was unable to sit two weeks ago after branch leaders successfully interdicted it at the Pietermaritzburg High Court. They argued that the conference could not go ahead until grievances related to gatekeeping‚ parallel branches and bogus members are dealt with.
In a statement issued at the conclusion of its special NEC that sat at St Georges hotel in Irene‚ the ANC repeated its call for members to resolve matters internally first before rushing to the courts.
“It implored responsible leadership structures and collectives at all levels to abide by the letter and spirit of the ANC Constitution in how they oversee and run organisational processes and give ANC members the space to be heard and raise their grievances and complaints. It urges members to utilise all internal processes‚” the statement read.
But the decision to endorse the election of provincial executives in the Eastern Cape and the Free State and to allow disputed the regional conferences in Gauteng to take place could see more members heading to court.
The ANC is seeking political solutions to the impasse. It has directed that warring parties in KwaZulu-Natal take to the negotiating table rather than the courts.
“The special NEC directed the National Dispute Resolution Committee (NDRC) to continue work with the (provincial task team) to address the issues raised by members who interdicted the provincial conference. In this regard‚ it would be possible to render the legal contestation redundant.
“The fundamental objective is to unite the organisation in pursuit of the core objective of the ANC which is to build a better life for all‚ especially the poor.”
The NEC also hopes that similar political engagements can help solve the standoff in the Eastern Cape. But that depends on which factions those political solutions favour. So far‚ factions that are opposed to the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa have lost internal battles against their political opponents and will naturally see the courts as an attractive option.
Meanwhile the North West will‚ bar a fight at the very top level‚ have a new Premier on Wednesday. The NEC has mandated the national working committee to sit and decide on a name on Wednesday and communicate its choice on Thursday.
Former Premier Supra Mahumapelo went on “early retirement” after a revolt against his leadership resulted in the ANC recommending his removal as Premier. Mahumapelo is‚ however‚ staying on as an ordinary member of the provincial legislature and in the powerful position of ANC North West chairman.
Former North-West director-general Job Mokgoro‚ South Africa’s ambassador to the UN Jerry Matjila and Speaker of the Provincial Legislature Susan Dantjie‚ who is acting Premier‚ are the three names that had been put forward to the NEC as possible replacements for Mahumapelo.