The Pietermaritzburg High Court has reserved judgment in the case of the African National Congress (ANC) KwaZulu-Natal leadership seeking to appeal a September ruling marking its contentious November 2015 conference null and void.
Heard before a full bench on Thursday, arguments centred on the timing of the 2015 conference, which saw current ANC chairman Sihle Zikala oust incumbent Senzo Mchunu.
Mchunu was fired from his position as premier a few months after the conference and now, together with other “rebel” ANC members, is one of the chief lobbyists for presidential hopeful Cyril Ramaphosa in the province.
The provincial executive council (PEC), the respondents in the matter, have thrown their weight behind Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to take over the reins of the ruling party’s presidency.
The applicants (“rebels”) consider the current PEC “illegitimate” following the September ruling.
Acting for the KZN ANC, advocate Greg Harpur SC, told the court that the timing of the 2015 conference, which had led to the September judgment, rested on the interpretation of the ANC constitution, which states that provincial elective conferences must happen “at least every four years”.
An appeal court would come to a different conclusion to that of the High Court, he said.
But Wim Trengrove SC, for the applicants, said the language in the party’s constitution was not ambiguous, meaning there was no reason to appeal.
He also said that while the respondents raised the issue of timing as found in the party’s constitution, they did not refer to the second part of the clause, which stated an early conference could be held if branches called for it. Branches had done no such thing, he said.
The 2015 conference took place six months earlier than expected.
The applicants also applied for an execution order to force the current PEC to vacate office, which was led by advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi.
He said the respondents had not shown that if they were absent as leadership that the organisation would suffer damage. The functions in the provincial organisation appeared to be tied to certain individuals, argued Ngcukaitobi, who also said it appeared that the respondents wanted to prolong the case.
Speaking to African News Agency (ANA) on Thursday, ANC KZN provincial secretary Super Zuma said he was not willing to comment on the postponement.
Sthembiso Mshengu, spokesperson for the applicants, said that they believed their legal team presented a “strong case”, particularly as concerned the execution order. “When the judges apply their minds of the basis of the facts before them, they will judge in our favour.”
The party will be holding its provincial general council on Monday and Tuesday next week as a precursor to the national conference in December, but Mshengu said Ramaphosa supporters would not be attending the event.
“We can’t go and bless what has been convened by an illegitimate structure. Delegates and supporters [of Ramaphosa] will not be part of that,” he said.