Disgruntled ANC group back in court to nullify Free state conference
Allowing its secretary-general, Ace Magashule, to preside over the disputes in the Free State ahead of its recent elective conference, rendered the entire process "unfair, mala fide, fatally tainted and unlawful", court papers from disgruntled ANC members say.
Party members in the province approached the High Court in Bloemfontein on Wednesday again to have the conference declared null and void.
Magashule, as secretary-general of the ANC, has to sign off all provincial conferences. He was also ANC Free State chairman, a position he had held since 1992.
It was under Magashule’s leadership in the province that the Free State provincial executive committee was barred by the courts from voting at the ANC’s national conferences in 2012 in Mangaung and 2017 at Nasrec.
In May, the ANC in the Free State reran its elective conference after the high court, days before the Nasrec conference, set aside the results of the December provincial conference at which Magashule was re-elected chairman.
However, the same group who approached the court in 2017 were unhappy and alleged the ANC had not complied with the previous court order to rerun branch general meetings before going to conference again in May 2018.
"The current secretary- general of the ANC, Ace Magashule, is deeply implicated in the unlawfulness which prevailed in the ANC for many years now and more specifically over the past year or so," they said in court papers. It was an "open secret" that the factions in the province were known as the "Magashule" and "anti- Magashule" factions, they said.
"In the circumstances [the ANC] committed a fatal error of law by allowing the secretary-general to preside over the disputes surrounding the lawfulness or otherwise of the provincial conference, a question over which he is inherently and manifestly biased," the group said.
They said ANC members were entitled to expect a fair and untainted processes.
ANC Free State spokesman Thabo Meeko said the party would oppose the court application and had met its lawyers on Wednesday.
"We believe that when we convened the provincial conference we observed the court order as per the previous judgment and we convened it in line with the ANC constitution. That’s why the special national executive committee endorsed the provincial conference."
A special national executive committee meeting took place in Pretoria on Monday when it discussed issues surrounding the provinces.
Magashule said on Tuesday the committee had endorsed the outcomes of the province’s May conference at which Sam Mashinini was elected provincial chairman.
Attorney Hanno Bekker, for the disgruntled group, accused the ANC of not complying with the previous court order and said the party was in "clear violation" of it. He said the ANC in the province had failed to rerun all 28 branch general meetings, as ordered by the court, before going to conference.
The disgruntled group said in court papers that the attempt to lawfully rerun the 28 branch general meetings was "half hearted at best". "Most of the irregularities that manifested themselves at the reruns were a repetition of the previous irregularities," they said.