ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Sihle Zikalala says ANC members who are challenging the provincial executive committee’s (PEC) legitimacy in court have colluded with counter revolutionary forces by using an “EFF lawyer”.
Referring to Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi who has been involved in a number of high profile political cases, representing opposition parties, Zikalala said the ANC members have taken family problems to the “enemy” to resolve them.
“It is very disheartening that some comrades will go to the extent of inviting lawyers who always represent the EFF to represent them today. We want to make it clear that if you share information with the counter revolution, you are colluding with the counter revolution,” Zikalala told hundreds of supporters outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court today.
“There is nothing worse than being in a family and knowing your internal problems, then people from inside the family go out and fetch enemies to come and get involved.”
The long awaited court case sat for the first of three days today and is being heard by a full bench.
ANC members in the province are calling a provincial conference which was held in November 2015 to be nullified.
That conference saw former chairperson Senzo Mchunu being ousted in favour of Zikalala who was then the provincial secretary.
The election of Zikalala was followed up by a so-called purge of Mchunu’s supporters.
The outcomes of the case – which has been delayed repeatedly due to a number of technicalities – will be critical for either of the two ANC’s in KZN.
The nullification of the conference will give a boost to the campaign of deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa who wants the ANC top job when the party elects President Jacob Zuma’s successor at the national conference in December.
On the other hand, should the PEC be vindicated, it will be a win for Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign in her bid to become ANC president.
Mchunu and other officials who were removed have not, however, joined the case as interested parties.
The court heard arguments from both sides today. Arguing for the applicants or so-called “rebel group,” Ngcukaitobi and senior counsel Griffiths Madonsela spoke to a number of alleged irregularities in the run up to and at the actual conference itself.
The legal team argued that branches were not given enough time to prepare for what was an early conference given that it took place the year before the next conference was to take place.
According to their interpretation of the ANC constitution, the conference was only supposed to take place four years after the last one which was held in 2012.
By that logic the next conference should have been in 2016 and not 2015.
They also argued that according to their interpretation, at least a third of the branches need to sign off on the early conference which did not happen in this case. Arguments were also made that the conference went ahead despite a number of branches appealing the results of their audits.
Madonsela also referred to a tweet from the ANC’s official account during that conference.
The tweet – made hours before voting concluded – stated 1459 votes had been cast for the position of chairperson.
Mchunu had received 675 and Zikalala 789, “#SihleZikalala is the Chairperson,” it read.
The final results announced the following morning, hours later, were 675 votes for Mchunu as earlier stated by the tweet and 780 for Zikalala.
The day ended with senior counsel Greg Harpur arguing for the respondents. Harpur made a case that the applicants had allowed a lot of time to pass before making their grievances known.
This was in contradiction to Ngcukaitobi’s account that they had in fact informed the highest decision-making structure outside conferences, the national executive committee (NEC).
And that in fact four NEC members and Zuma had committed to attending to those grievances but failed to do so.
Harpur said that the case presented by the respondents was “vague and embarrassing.”
He argued that none of the branches took issue with the events leading up to the conference at the time and if they did, it was not raised with the leadership.
Harpur said that this was an indication that the members were just disgruntled because they were the losing “faction”, which was a common occurrence in political parties after major events.
He also said that individual ANC members could not take action against the ANC because they had no agency as individuals, but only as branches.
Harpur said that individual rights were exercised when voting in branches and not beyond that.
Harpur will continue arguing tomorrow when the court reconvenes at 10am.