As the ANC policy indaba got under way in Midrand this week, disgruntled Free State members have launched a court challenge to the controversy-hit provincial conference that returned Ace Magashule as chairman.

They have approached the Bloemfontein High Court seeking to overturn the results of last weekend’s conference in Parys.

Susan Shabangu, the Mineral Resources Minister who also headed the ANC task team to resolve grievances in the province, said the legal challenge was disconcerting, particularly as it came during the policy conference. “It also raises the question whether the individuals are committed to the objectives of the ANC. We are sitting here (at the policy conference) and they are going to court.”

The matter would be opposed, she said. “We have our legal people responding to this matter.”

Several of the newly elected top five Free State officials also said yesterday the court challenge would be defended. Luthuli House gave the conference the green light and President Jacob Zuma, during Sunday’s closing session, said it had been held “within the framework of the ANC constitution”.

Mxolisi Dukwana, the former economic affairs MEC and Magashule’s would-be challenger, who boycotted the conference over allegations that branch meetings had been manipulated and attendance registers interfered with, is not among those challenging the outcome in court. He called it illegitimate last weekend. “I know nothing about it,” he said yesterday. “We are just preparing ourselves to have an interaction with the (ANC) national executive committee.”

It is understood the Free State ANC Youth League, which like Dukwana did not attend the conference in protest over the alleged failure to resolve complaints, is also not part of the court challenge.

Sapa reports that the spokesman for the members, Mpho Ramakatsa, had said the Free State delegation was not legitimate and called on its members to recuse themselves. The court challenge is expected to be heard today.

Political Bureau