Ace Magashule. PICTURE: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES
Ace Magashule. PICTURE: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES

The ANC could soon face contempt of court charges after it went ahead and elected a new Free State provincial leadership at the weekend.

Days before the party’s national conference at Nasrec in 2017, the High Court in Bloemfontein set aside the results of the Free State provincial conference, which had re-elected Ace Magashule as provincial chairman. The court found that the 14 branches that participated at the conference had not been properly constituted and ordered that this to be done before credible provincial elections were held.

Only five of the 14 branches have been reconstituted. Yet the provincial elective conference went ahead.

Magashule has since moved to the party’s headquarters after being elected secretary-general. But he is said to still have a firm hand in the political affairs of the province, which he has led since 1992.

A disgruntled group said on Sunday they would approach the court in a bid to have the weekend’s provincial elective conference set aside again.

Magashule ally Sam Mashinini and his entire executive were elected unopposed — behind closed doors.

Monnapule Ntamo, the spokesman for the disgruntled group, said they had sent questions to the provincial task team ahead of the weekend conference inquiring about the credentials of the conference.

They claim the conference was rerun with the same disputed delegates. They also claim there were no nomination forms for leadership positions.

"You cannot take the same delegates into the conference and say this is a continuation of a conference that was nullified," Ntamo said.

"We warned them that if they go to conference it will be contempt of court because the court ordered that there are certain branches which were not properly constituted at that time, which is 14 branches."

ANC Free State spokesman Thabo Meeko confirmed that only five branches had managed to rerun their meetings successfully. However, the other nine branches had not participated in the conference, he said.

On the absence of nomination forms, Meeko said the electoral commission, which oversaw the elections, decided that nominations would be done from the floor and the delegates had agreed to this.

The disgruntled group in the Free State is now asking that the ANC’s national executive committee intervene.

The group said that if the party’s national leaders failed to intervene they would also hold a separate conference.

ANC national spokesman Pule Mabe, however, said all conferences needed to be signed off by Magashule.

He said the ANC had put in place a dispute resolution committee for such issues.

"We are going to have to do things according to the rules of the ANC," Mabe said.

The Free State under Magashule was one of the strongest backers of former president Jacob Zuma.

At the Nasrec national elective conference they, together with Supra Mahumapelo’s North West province, were the main backers of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who lost to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Observers say the current fiasco in the Free State and in the North West is largely a replay of the political rivalries that preceded the Nasrec conference.

The North West is embroiled in political turmoil, with riots and violent demonstrations against Mahumapelo, who is refusing to stand down as the premier.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za

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