An African National Congress flag. Picture: DAILY DISPATCH/PHILLIP NOTHNAGEL
An African National Congress flag. Picture: DAILY DISPATCH/PHILLIP NOTHNAGEL

Lawyers representing the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal in its court battle against so-called rebel branches have rubbished the allegation that a Twitter account prematurely posted election results from the party’s 2015 provincial conference.

The case was underway in the Pietermaritzburg High Court before a full bench of Judges Sharmaine Balton‚ Piet Koen and Mahendra Chetty.

According to the branches‚ a tweet from an ANC account — posted while voting was still underway — predicted the precise outcome of the election that saw Sihle Zikalala replace Senzo Mchunu as provincial chairperson. But ANC lawyer Adv Greg Harpur labelled it a mischievous tweet‚ a view that was first stated by Zikalala.

"The tweet was not from an official ANC account and it was a fake tweet. As Mr Zikalala said‚ it’s mischievous to rely on the tweet. Mr Zikalala does not know the source of the tweet‚" Harpur submitted on Thursday‚ the second day of the trial. However‚ Harpur did acknowledge that the tweet‚ released at about 10pm during voting‚ was accurate regarding the final figure received by defeated contestant Mchunu.

He submitted that‚ as is the case with national elections‚ "not everyone will be happy with results but must accept them". Harpur said the complaints were taken seriously when they were raised after the conference and questioned why the branches did not follow up with President Jacob Zuma and national executive committee (NEC) members when five days had passed‚ instead waiting several months.

According to testimony heard on Wednesday‚ the group approached Zuma in December 2015 and the president undertook to respond. However‚ they claim they never received that response.

Harpur said the issue had been "overstated". Responding to Harpur before lunch time, lawyer for the rebel members Adv Tembeka Ngcukaitobi said the ANC had an obligation to listen to its members’ grievances and to follow up on complaints as prescribed in its rules.

"My clients had exhausted all avenues, but when the NEC decided to endorse and induct the new provincial executive committee they had no other recourse‚" said Ngcukaitobi.

The trial continues.

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