Divisions abound: ANC members singing and dancing at the ANC provincial conference in East London on Sunday. Picture: SIBONGILE NGALWA
Divisions abound: ANC members singing and dancing at the ANC provincial conference in East London on Sunday. Picture: SIBONGILE NGALWA

ANC structures are increasingly turning to the courts to settle political scores and moving away from the internal structures through which it prefers to resolve disputes, as the leadership contest gathers pace.

On Sunday another court battle loomed as disgruntled delegates in the Eastern Cape filed a court application to nullify the weekend’s provincial executive committee (PEC).

eNCA reported that the delegates were questioning the validity of the conference after violence broke out in the early hours of Sunday.

Oscar Mabuyane took over the reins of the province with a resounding majority over former ANC chairman Phumulo Masualle. Mabuyane told the broadcaster that he had signed responding court papers, saying the matter will be heard in the East London Magistrate’s Court.

Zizi Kodwa, ANC spokesman and national executive committee deployee to the province, said that they had taken time to clean up credentials, as they knew that "everything is litigious".

"When we go to court, we must know the story in terms of ANC processes," Kodwa said.

Besides the chaotic conference in the Eastern Cape, ANC members in the Free State and Northern Cape threatened court action against the respective provincial executive committees last week.

In a legal letter on behalf of Lefa Mifi, a member from Dewetsdorp in the Free State, the national executive committee is asked to disband the Free State PEC by October 8 and appoint a provincial task team or be taken to court because the provincial conference, which had to take place at the latest in August, had not yet taken place.

Members of the ANC in the Northern Cape also sent a legal letter to the chairman of the province, Zamani Saul, who was elected in 2017, and to national secretary-general Gwede Mantashe on Friday, saying that the PEC in the Northern Cape is unlawful and that the plan is to take the outcome of the conference, which elected the PEC, to court.

The ANC leadership is given until October 4 to accede to the request or face an urgent application in court.

This all comes after the High Court in Pietermaritzburg declared the 2015 elective conference in KwaZulu-Natal null and void.

The party’s top six met with the 2015 leadership in the province on Sunday. A meeting with the faction that supports former ANC KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu and took the results to court and won, is scheduled for Monday.

Northern Cape provincial secretary Deshi Ngxanga said in response to the legal threat that the application "is a mere laughable KwaZulu-Natal copycat attempt that seeks to derail the work of the ANC in  the province".

In the North West, the Bojanala regional conference, where new leaders were to be elected, was also interdicted.

New leadership was elected last week, but a review application was scheduled for late October, African News Agency reported.

Western Cape ANC secretary Faiez Jacobs said they did not take each other to court in the Western Cape.

He said that, ideally, political solutions had to be found for political problems.

Unisa political analyst Somadoda Fikeni told Business Day that the multiple court challenges indicated a decline in internal democracy in the party and that courts were seen as a last resort.

Fikeni said that scenes similar to the disruption in the Eastern Cape could be expected during the elective conference in December.

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