African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe PHOTO: Getrude Makhafola/ANA
Johannesburg - ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe on Monday swept away questions over the legitimacy of the party's provincial executive committee (PEC) in the Free State, led by Ace Magashule as chairman, and insisted it would take part in the party's upcoming national elective conference. 

The provincial leadership's term came to an end in May, and numerous attempts to elect new leaders failed. 

But Mantashe said the Free State provincial structure should not be placed in the same category as ''medicine that has reached its sell-by date''.

''It is not an illegitimate PEC... it is doing the work of the ANC and also complies with that court order, that court order did not instruct the dissolution of the Free State PEC... it merely extends [its] term for it to hold a provincial conference. 

''The PEC will come to the conference... it has not been dissolved. We are not dealing with some medicine with a manufacturing date and an expiry date. That province is preparing for the conference.''  

Magashule's woes were worsened by ruling by the Bloemfontein High Court last week that the ANC branches convened ahead of the national conference were unconstitutional, unlawful and irregular. 

The ruling further rendered the Provincial General Council (PGC) outcome nominating Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma over the weekend as their preferred leader null and void, as the decision emanated from irregularly constituted branches.  

The provincial conference that was planned after the PGC over the weekend was further declared invalid unless the several irregularly constituted branches were re-run. The disgruntled members argued that the PEC did not have the authority to take decisions and requested the NEC to appoint an interim team to lead the province until the December national conference. 

Over a hundred delegates, mainly supporters of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, boycotted the PGC. They included Magashule's ally turned foe, Thabo Manyoni. 

African News Agency