Sihle Zikalala. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Sihle Zikalala. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

An eleventh hour bid to halt the ANC KwaZulu-Natal conference from going ahead on Thursday was unsuccessful after the High Court in Pietermaritzburg dismissed an application from six disgruntled party members.

The six claimed that not enough time was given before holding the conference and that their grievances had not been attended to.

The group approached the court on Thursday afternoon as delegates were converging in Durban for the long-awaited conference. The group was believed to be from the Moses Mabhida region, which is the province’s third-biggest region.

This is the second time in almost two months that the provincial elective conference has faced a court challenge.

The ANC has been battling to keep its members from approaching the courts to deal with internal party matters and prevent provincial conferences from going ahead.

Five of the ANC’s provinces have faced court challenges in recent months. Provinces have been given until the end of July to conclude elective conferences so that the ANC can start focusing on its campaign ahead of the 2019 general election.

Gauteng elective conference

Gauteng is expected to hold its elective conference this weekend after a court challenge on Wednesday was dismissed by the High Court in Johannesburg. Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati struck Thursday’s application for an urgent interdict off the roll, allowing the KwaZulu-Natal conference to start in Durban.

In June an interim interdict was granted to another group of disgruntled members from the Moses Mabhida‚ Lower South Coast and Harry Gwala regions, who approached the court to stop the conference. This after the provincial executive committee was declared unlawful in 2017 by the court after irregularities at the 2015 conference were challenged by the losers.

The ANC has since reached an out of court settlement with the members who successfully interdicted the conference in June.

Provincial task team co-ordinator Sihle Zikalala on Thursday said the party was surprised by the attempt to halt the conference again because it had done a lot to try to address issues ahead of the gathering.

"We will be engaging with these comrades on issues of their concern and we are going to address all issues that we agreed to … in line with the settlement we have done," he said.

"We never expected this [recent court challenge] because we have gone all out to ensure that all grievances are in fact addressed properly and to the best satisfaction of all members."

Zikalala is expected to stand unopposed for the position of provincial chairman. A position he was elected to at the 2015 conference, but lost after the KwaZulu-Natal leadership was disbanded following the court judgment.

The ANC national executive committee had put in place a task team, with Zikalala as the co-ordinator.

Mike Mabuyakhulu is expected to stand unopposed for the position of deputy provincial chairman.

The hotly contested position is that of provincial secretary with Mdumiseni Ntuli, the former provincial party spokesman, going up against Super Zuma, the former provincial secretary.

Ntuli has secured the nomination of the majority of the branches in at least eight of the ANC’s 11 regions in the province, while Zuma has been nominated by the majority of the branches in two regions.

With Chris Makhaye and Nce Mkhize