Johannesburg - The African National Congress KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive committee (PEC) is "not shaken" by the recent court ruling to disband the PEC, provincial chairman Sihle Zikalala said on Saturday.
On Friday, the Pietermaritzburg High Court granted an application for the PEC leadership to vacate office, but also granted the ANC leave to appeal its September ruling. In September, the same court declared null and void the 2015 provincial conference in which Zikalala was elected provincial chairman.
Friday's ruling meant that the 27 KwaZulu-Natal PEC members attending the governing party's 54th national conference in Johannesburg will attend as branch delegates, not as PEC members, and will not be allowed to vote in the election of national office bearers of the party.
Zikalala is now attending the conference as a delegate of the Million Meyiwa ANC branch in ward 11, Ndwedwe. The PEC supported Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for ANC president. He expressed deep resentment at the judiciary's involvement in politics, but said they would respect the decision of the court to disband the PEC out of respect for the ANC, even though they did not agree with the ruling.
"We do not want to see the conference collapsing. That is why we are concerned about the courts, that they issue judgment on the eve of the conference. All of that are issues that will be considered. We have appealed yesterday's [Friday] court decision," Zikalala said.
"I have been a branch delegate before, and that I am a branch delegate again is an honour, and I will be participating here on behalf of the people of my ward and the membership of my branch.
"With regards to [the] national conference and the issues we are having, we are solid. We are not shaken. Whether you can remove 39 ward delegates from North West, remove the PEC from Free State, remove KZN, we know that what we represent resonates with the interest of the masses and it is going to emerge even in this conference," he said.
"We've gone back from the policy conference and tried to meet. You know there is a team that's working on unifying the province led by comrade Willies Mchunu and Mike Mabuyakulu.
"We've gone all over, meeting the provinces trying to bring unity. We've gone to Mpumalanga, Free State and Gauteng."
Zikalala also heaped praise on outgoing ANC President Jacob Zuma for the role he played in the provision of free higher education.
Zuma's office announced earlier yesterday morning that government would extend fully subsidised free higher education to "poor and working class" youth from 2018.
"That is a major achievement for us as the ANC... we should not doubt that we are guided by the Freedom Charter," he said.
The ANC will elect new national office bearers, including a new president and the other five top officials, on Sunday.