Three-horse race: MEC for education Panyaza Lesufi is in the lead for the position of Gauteng ANC deputy chairman. The other contenders are Lebogang Maile and Parks Tau. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI/ SUNDAY TIMES
Three-horse race: MEC for education Panyaza Lesufi is in the lead for the position of Gauteng ANC deputy chairman. The other contenders are Lebogang Maile and Parks Tau. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI/ SUNDAY TIMES

The battle is far from over for the ANC as it struggles to stop its members from fighting the party in the courts.

The ANC has given its provinces until end of this month to hold and conclude all conferences. 

On Wednesday, the High Court in Johannesburg dismissed a case by a group of disgruntled members.

The group of 11 ANC members in Ekurhuleni had sought to interdict the Gauteng provincial conference, which kicks off on Friday. The case, which is the fifth provincial gathering challenged in court in recent months, was dismissed.

The ANC in Gauteng welcomed the court’s decision to dismiss the matter with costs. Spokesman Motalatale Modiba said the province was "never in doubt" about its prospects of success in the case, dismissing it as an attempt to derail the provincial conference to take place over the weekend.

The 11 members had sought to halt the provincial conference, or have the court bar the Ekurhuleni region from participating in it, as the group believed there were irregularities in the regional elective conference which took place last month.

Gauteng acting chairman David Makhura on Monday said the province was confident that no court challenge against the gathering would succeed.

Key elective contest

The key elective contest in Gauteng is over the position of deputy chairman, a three-horse race between MEC for education Panyaza Lesufi, MEC for economic development Lebogang Maile and former Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau.

Lesufi thus far leads in the nominations from the five regions, but whether this translates into a victory will be decided at the weekend.

The ANC in Limpopo is also facing a court battle with unhappy members who want to have its June elective conference nullified, where Premier Stan Mathabatha was re-elected provincial chairman.

The conference came close to being halted after a group of branch members approached the court as a matter of urgency. The application was struck off the roll on grounds that it was not urgent. The conference continued and a new provincial leadership was elected.

Lawyer Tumi Mokwena said on Wednesday he had been instructed by the group to put the matter on the court roll. "This time it will be to nullify the results of conference," he said.

Meanwhile, a group of disgruntled party members in the Free State is continuing with a bid to have the province’s recent elective conference nullified.

In May, the ANC in the Free State re-ran its elective conference after the high court, days before the Nasrec national conference, set aside the results of the provincial gathering at which Ace Magashule was re-elected chairman.

However, the same group which approached the court in 2017 was unhappy and alleged the ANC had not complied with the previous court order to re-run branch general meetings before going to conference again in May 2018.

They lodged their application in the court in June and the matter was expected to be heard in early July but has been postponed as the ANC failed to file opposing papers.

The disgruntled group’s lawyer, Hanno Bekker, on Wednesday said that the ANC had asked for an extension on July 13. The party then asked for another extension and has now been given until July 20 to lodge its papers.

"They don’t really have much scope, in our honest opinion," Bekker said. "We’ve got a suspicion that they are just playing for time, so the moment that the client is ready for us, we will place it on the court roll and go to court whether they are ready for us or not."

In court papers, the members said allowing Magashule to preside over the disputes in the Free State ahead of the elective conference, rendered the entire process "unfair, mala fide, fatally tainted and unlawful".

It was under Magashule’s leadership 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 in 2017 at Nasrec.

The long-awaited ANC conference in KwaZulu-Natal, the party’s largest province, is set to kick off on Thursday after an initial attempt at holding it was successfully halted by the courts last month.

The provincial task team who organised the gathering said they are positive the conference will go ahead, after a "political settlement" with those who were granted the initial interdict.