Rebel ANC branches that have taken the party’s KwaZulu-Natal leadership to court to challenge the outcome of the November 2015 provincial conference claim this week’s withdrawal by the ANC’s lawyers is a bid to delay the matter being heard.
They say this move is aimed at ensuring that the existing leadership makes it to the crucial December elective conference.
They now want the ANC national leadership to disband the provincial executive committee to prevent an “illegitimate” leadership from using the delay to go into conference as the representatives of the ANC in the province.
This week lawyers Ngubane and Wills wrote to the court and the lawyers representing applicants led by Lawrence Dube and Sibahle Zikalala, who are acting on behalf of the disaffected branches, saying that they had withdrawn from the case.
They were due to have met with the applicants’ legal team in chambers of the Judge President on Tuesday to work out a schedule for presentation of documents to the court for both the initial action claiming the conference outcome was fraudulent and an interlocutory application brought by the ANC legal team.
Instead, a letter of withdrawal was served on the Pietermaritzburg High Court, where the matter has been heard because the conference was held within its jurisdiction and the applicants’ lawyers.
Dube told City Press they believed the ANC was trying to buy time by delaying the case.
“The defence of the case seems to have been thrown into disarray by the instructing attorney of the ANC.
"It is now clear that the ANC lawyers cannot stand in front of the people of KwaZulu-Natal and defend the indefensible,” said Dube.
Dube said that the respondents had employed a “distrustful delaying tactic” as they “have no answers to the allegations levelled against them”.
ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Sihle Zikalala confirmed that Ngubane and Wills had withdrawn, but said the ANC would continue to defend the case.
Zikalala referred City Press to provincial secretary Super Zuma and spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli for further details of the matter.
Dube and the other branch leaders brought the application to try and have the outcome of the conference, at which chairperson Sihle Zikalala beat Senzo Mchunu by a small margin, set aside on the basis that legitimate branch delegates had been denied access to the conference venue.
They also claimed in papers before court that the conference outcome had been broadcast by the winning side via social media before voting had been concluded and that the process of selecting delegates had been manipulated by the faction led by Zikalala.
Dube said that the only “honourable” thing for the ANC national leadership to do to “redeem itself” for its role in the alleged rigging of the conference was to disband the current provincial leadership and “allow a clean and fair process to unfold that will result in the will of the ANC members in KwaZulu-Natal prevail”.