Durban - After almost two years of infighting, factions within the Minority Front (MF) have buried the hatchet, paving the way for Shameen Thakur Rajbansi to lead the bruised party into the general elections next year.
An order was granted in the Durban High Court on Tuesday, declaring Thakur Rajbansi the leader of the MF.
Since the death of her husband and party founder, Amichand Rajbansi, in December 2011, there have been several disputes over the leadership, as well as legal battles over expulsions and the legitimacy of the MF’s executive committee.
The issues were to have been thrashed out in a five-day trial this week, but on Tuesday advocate Natalie Lange, counsel for the applicants – Ganas Govender and Dheenadayalan Govender – said a confidential settlement agreement had been reached between the two parties.
Acting judge Peter Rowan commended the parties and said he would “naively like to think that the relationship would become stronger and that a stronger party would come together again”.
He said it was not necessary to include the confidential agreement in the court file, so the document remains sealed.
According to the order made, Thakur Rajbansi is declared the leader of the MF; the relief sought and the counter-applications are withdrawn; the future conduct of the parties would be regulated in terms of the confidential settlement agreement; and the parties would bear their own costs.
In a joint press statement by Thakur Rajbansi, MP Roy Bhoola and the applicants, the MF said the settlement was a show of unity and strength that would see the members rising above internal party issues.
It said that in terms of the agreement, a reconstructed national executive committee had been formed with input from a wider representation of the MF.
Thakur Rajbansi and Bhoola said that this settlement “will see the Minority Front moving forward united in our resolve to continue service delivery as one unit to communities. The community must be assured of an effective and efficient MF that will be taking the party to greater heights as a collective force with all MF councillors, MPs and members on board,” the statement read.
When Rajbansi fell ill in 2011, his wife was appointed the interim leader. According to the two applicants, a meeting was called in January last year and Thakur Rajbansi was named as the leader.
In court papers, Thakur Rajbansi said that after the endorsement of her leadership by all of the parties’ representatives, a dispute arose between Bhoola and herself.
Bhoola was expelled from the party, but in April last year he challenged his expulsion in the Western Cape High Court and also her appointment as leader.
Thakur Rajbansi said at the time Bhoola had tried to solicit support from certain members within the party including the Govenders.
The two men, both city councillors, had also filed court papers last year after Thakur Rajbansi expelled them from the MF.
The Durban High Court, in June last year, granted an order reversing their expulsion and preventing them from being removed as councillors in the eThekwini Municipality.
They filed further court papers earlier this year seeking an interdict to prevent the party’s executive committee from holding a disciplinary hearing against them.
However, the application failed as the court found that they had not made out a case for urgency as they had known about the disciplinary hearing since November last year.
The councillors were charged by the MF for their part in organising a conference at which Bhoola was elected party leader.
After their disciplinary hearing, the councillors were again expelled and they again approached the court, which granted an interim order.
In another application, the councillors and the MF were embroiled in a dispute contesting the legitimacy of the MF’s executive committee that presided over the councillors’ disciplinary hearings. All the court applications filed this year were then joined and set down for trial this month.
On Tuesday, senior advocate Kissoon Singh told the court that all the disputes had been settled.