The African National Congress (ANC) in KwaZulu-Natal did not need the permission of the organisation’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to decide whether or not to seek a motion to appeal Tuesday’s high court ruling.
This was the view of leaders and representatives of the ANC KZN women’s, youth and veterans’ leagues during a media briefing at the party’s provincial headquarters in Durban on Wednesday. Several regional leaders, who expressed the same sentiments, were also present.
The urgent media briefing was announced on Tuesday just hours after the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg ruled that the party’s November 2015 provincial conference and any decisions taken there were “unlawful and void”.
That conference saw current provincial chair, Sihle Zikalala, oust incumbent Senzo Mchunu. Mchunu’s supporters cried foul immediately and, after alleging they had exhausted all internal processes, took Zikalala and the entire provincial executive committee (PEC) to court, citing irregularities.
On Tuesday, ANC provincial spokesperson Mduminseni Ntuli said the PEC was seeking a motion to appeal the High Court ruling and that it would do so provisionally before meeting with national leadership.
“This has been our battle. The NEC could not even come to court to defend the ANC,” said Kwazi Mshengu, ANC youth league provincial chair at Wednesday’s briefing.
“It’s very strange that they say ‘leave us and handle the case’ and when the outcome of the case comes they say ‘no, thank you, we are taking over now’. It can’t be,” he said.
“It is profound to note that the court found that it was not satisfied that the Applicants have clearly established a fatal irregularity which would nullify the entire conference process,” he said.
“The only ground upon which the court relied on to nullify the conference is that the conference was convened before the end of the four-year term of office and without the request of the one-third of branches in the province,” he said.
Provincial women’s league deputy chair Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said that the powers allocated to the PEC were clearly laid out in the ANC’s constitution and that it was subject only to those provisions.
“There seems to be a narrative out there that says the provincial executive committee gets delegated powers from the national executive committee; it’s not true,” said Simelane-Zulu.
The youth league’s provincial secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo was not as tactful. “The PEC is appealing the decision and we don’t need the NEC’s permission or anyone else’s permission,” he said.
The court case was not about the provincial conference but December’s national conference where a new ANC president is to be voted in, according to Sabelo.
Mchunu and his backers are supporters of deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, who will be up against Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in the national conference. The KwaZulu-Natal leagues and many regions have thrown their weight behind Dlamini-Zuma.
Speaking to African News Agency (ANA) via telephone about the pronouncements at the press conference ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said: “Those are leagues, they are autonomous, they run the affairs of their leagues, they don’t run the ANC.”
As for the regional representatives supporting appealing the ruling, Mantashe said that regions were under the jurisdiction of the province, “they can say anything, we don’t run them,” he said.
He said national leadership would meet with KZN leaders on Friday at Luthuli House “to hear their proposal”.