Johannesburg - The protracted legal battle over the lawfulness of the 2015 ANC provincial conference in KwaZulu-Natal is heading to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) next month.
ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala and members of the provincial executive committee (PEC) elected at the governing party’s November 2015 provincial conference are challenging the Pietermaritzburg High Court judgment declaring the gathering unlawful and invalid.
The SCA has put the matter on its roll of cases to be heard next month and in March, and allocated five judges to hear arguments on February 15.
Disgruntled ANC members opposed to the election of Zikalala, then provincial secretary Super Zuma and the PEC, successfully approached the high court to declare the provincial conference held in Pietermaritzburg and decisions taken at the gathering were unlawful and void.
ANC branch chairperson and Abaqulusi local municipality ward councillor Lawrence Dube, another branch chairperson and three branch secretaries, told the high court that the elections were not free and fair, were manipulated and that there were other irregularities.
Zikalala beat then-provincial chairperson Senzo Mchunu by 105 votes.
The appellants (Zikalala and the PEC elected in 2015) want the SCA to clarify the proper meaning of the clause in the ANC’s constitution stating that provincial conferences must “be held at least once every four years and more often if requested by at least one third of all branches in good standing”.
They also want the country’s second-highest court to determine whether Dube and Mchunu’s supporters launched their application within the stipulated 180-day period as provided for in the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.
Yesterday, Dube told Independent Media that the matter was now academic and about the interpretation of the clause 17.2.1 of the ANC constitution.
“It is a matter of both sides to be satisfied about the interpretation of rule 17.2.1,” he said.
Dube insisted that the outcome of the SCA case would not cause any tension and derail efforts to unite the governing party in KwaZulu-Natal.
In July last year, Zikalala was elected unopposed along with provincial treasurer Nomusa Dube-Ncube.
Deputy provincial chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu, provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli and his deputy Sipho Hlomuka emerged victorious after the positions were contested.
Political analyst Thabani Khumalo said if the ANC in KZN was serious and genuine about reconciling, cohesion and unity among the pre-conditions should have been that all outstanding cases must be withdrawn.
According to Khumalo, such pre-conditions would have signalled that the warring factions were prepared to start on a new page.
“It is clear that the unity was a public relations exercise,” he said.
Khumalo said there was also the risk that party members in the province who opposed the election of President Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC leader could demand a rerun of the party’s 2017 national conference as they were still bitter.