Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidential campaign in KwaZulu-Natal has been bolstered by a ruling that the conference that elected the current provincial executive committee was “unlawful and void”.
Judge Jerome Mnguni handed down the judgment in the Pietermaritzburg High Court this morning.
ANC members – dubbed the rebels – sympathetic to ousted chairperson Senzo Mchunu took to court to challenge the outcomes of the 2015 provincial conference, which saw Mchunu removed in favour of then secretary Sihle Zikalala.
All 38 provincial executive committee members who were elected at that conference were respondents in the matter. The PEC were absent from court this morning with the exception of spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli.
Ntuli said he believed that they had grounds to appeal the judgment but would take advice from the ANC’s national working committee. Despite the upset he insisted that “the centre would hold”.
He added that although he had not yet read the full judgment, it related only to the conference and not “to comrades deployed in government”.
“The eighth KwaZulu-Natal provincial elective conference of the African National Congress held at Pietermaritzburg from November 6 to 8 2015 and decisions taken at that conference are declared unlawful and void,” the 68-page judgment reads.
“The 38th respondent (ANC) is directed to pay one half of the applicants’ costs of the application, such costs [are] to include the costs of two counsel.”
The judgment quotes extensively from the Constitutional Court ruling from 2012 in which the highest court in the land set aside the provincial conference – saying it was unlawful and void – of the Free State ahead of the ANC’s national conference in Mangauang.
History has repeated itself with yet another national conference set to take place in December. The now illegitimate PEC is believed to be in favour of Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to succeed president Jacob Zuma.
Meanwhile Mchunu – who refused to be redeployed to the National Assembly – has thrown his weight behind Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Mchunu has been touted for the position of secretary-general on the Ramaphosa slate.
Outside court, celebrations soon turned into a mini rally for Ramaphosa. Ardent supporter and Lower South Coast secretary Mzwandile Mkhwanazi chanted “Cyril Ramaphosa for president”, which was met with loud cheers.
Mkhwanazi also spoke about the purge that followed in the form of a Cabinet reshuffle after the 2015 conference. Mchunu was removed from his position as premier along with those who supported him including: MECs Mike Mabuyakhulu and Cyril Xaba.
Speaker after speaker affirmed the pronouncement that Ramaphosa should succeed Zuma.
KwaZulu-Natal has the biggest voting delegation at the ANCs national conference, traditionally it is also the most consolidated. This year it is torn between those who support Ramaphosa, those who support Dlamini-Zuma and pockets which could support treasurer general Zweli Mkhize.
The Mchunu/Ramaphosa camp believe that it can rally at least half of KwaZulu-Natal behind it.
The ANC has noted the judgment, saying it is still being studied. It was expected that a provincial task team would be appointed to oversee the province until the next conference.