On Friday last week the Pietermaritzburg High Court granted an order in favour of six ANC members who approached the court seeking that the provincial conference - due to be held that weekend - be postponed.
The ANC has had to abandon the conference, but vowed to challenge the court’s decision, saying its leaders had not been given time to respond to the application.
The co-ordinator of the provincial task team (PTT), Sihle Zikalala, was present at court on Friday, and was willing to be put on the stand to clarify some of the issues raised in the application.
“We want to prepare the defence case to ensure that papers can help the court rule in our favour,” said Zikalala.
The ANC is hoping that the matter will be finalised soon, as it is hoping to reconvene the conference within six weeks.
In the court papers filed by the six members from three regions, they argued that it would have been illegal for the conference to go ahead.
The six applicants are all members of the disbanded leadership structures at the Harry Gwala, Lower South Coast and Moses Mabhida regions. They are Reshma Brijraj, Moosa Manyoni, Muntuza Mkhize, Siyabonga Hlongwa, Bhekukwenza Nzimande and Zoliswa Nyide.
The applicants believe that in preparation for the conference, many issues were left unresolved, and thus they felt it was wrong for the conference to be held.
These matters included appeals lodged by branches that had either failed the audit, or those appeals lodged by members who felt that branch general meetings (BGMs) had been fraught with irregularities. Membership verification forms part of the audit process, as only branches with more than 100 members qualify to be represented at ANC conferences, while BGMs are a prerequisite to any conference, as they also serve to elect delegates to the conference.
The six stated that by the time of the application, many branches had yet to be told the outcome of their appeals.
In respect of Moses Mabhida, the ANC’s second-biggest region in KZN, the applicants claimed that disputes had been lodged in half of the region’s 88 branches.
“Moses Mabhida has 44 outstanding BGM-related disputes that have not been dealt with because of objections Those 44 branches represent in excess of 5000 branch members,” the applicants argued.
Similar arguments were advanced in relation to the Lower South Coast and Harry Gwala regions.
“There has been no report produced or communicated to the appellants by the dispute resolution structures, and they still do not know the state of the appeals, the status of their branches or which delegates from those branches are, or are not, duly authorised to attend the provincial conference. This affects branches with a combined membership of more than 3000 members,”
The applicants claimed that in one instance in Harry Gwala, the ANC had found that a BGM in Umzimkhulu should be nullified as 321 members from that branch had been excluded from participating, but this was not done. In another case, the applicants claimed, the ANC had directed that a BGM be reconvened at Ubuhlebezwe, but this was not done.
In the court papers, these members warned that the longer membership gate-keeping, patronage and BGM irregularities continued, the greater the risk that political violence in KZN would escalate.