The South Gauteng High Court has ruled that the North West provincial executive committee (PEC) should be reinstated within two working days because it was illegally disbanded and, by extension, the provincial task team that was deployed in its place was unlawfully constituted.
In delivering her ruling Judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane found that the decision by the ANC’s national executive committee to disband the provincial committee, which was chaired by Supra Mahumapelo, was “procedurally unfair and a breach of the party’s own constitution”.
She also ruled that the decision “violated the applicants’ constitutional rights, particularly section 19 of the country’s Constitution”.
Kathree-Setiloane added that in disbanding the provincial committee the national committee failed to inform the branches that nominated the provincial committee in accordance with the party’s own policies.
“While a declaration of rights is important, it is not sufficient where the conduct of the respondent is unlawful for being in non-compliance with its own constitution as is the case here,” said Judge Kathree-Setiloane.
Having deemed the removal of the provincial committee illegal, the judge ruled that leaving the task team in place, as the governing party has contended, would therefore constitute the preserving of an illegal state of affairs.
She ruled that the task team was interdicted from carrying out any of the functions conferred on it by the ANC national executive committee and the governing party’s constitution and that the disbanded provincial committee be reinstated within two days of this court order.
The judge ordered the ANC to pay the costs of the application including the costs of two counsels.
The national executive committee took the decision to dissolve the North West provincial committee last year following widespread violent protests that rocked the province, with protesters calling for Mahumapelo to step down as the provincial premier.
Speaking to journalists following the ruling, Mahumapelo said they were not elated by the judgment because the whole process could have been avoided.
He said had the national executive committee “just paused and reflected a bit on the issues that we were rising” instead on acting on “emotions” then it would not have made a decision that would later be found to be unconstitutional.
The now reinstated North West provincial committee chair urged the national committee to abide by the ruling and called for ANC members in the North West to focus on electioneering and ensuring that the ANC wins the upcoming elections.
Following today’s ruling the ANC in a media statement said it noted the judgment, and would be studying it “and making a determination on a course of action”.