The ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive committee (PEC) has filed an application for leave to appeal the Pietermaritzburg High Court judgment which nullified a 2015 conference, arguing that the court may have misinterpreted the ANC constitution.
The judgment of the full bench of the Pietermaritzburg High Court, handed down earlier this month, effectively disbanded the leadership structure led by provincial chairman Sihle Zikalala.
The PEC filed the application at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Wednesday. In the court papers the 39 respondents who include Zikalala, provincial secretary Super Zuma and other members of the PEC, argue that that they have reasonable prospects of success at a higher court.
They believe the High Court erred in its interpretation of Rule 17.2.1 of the ANC constitution which states that an early conference should be requested by a third of the branches.
The arguments on this were mainly on whether the conference was early or not as the constitution of the ANC states that the conference should be held once every four years.
The PEC argues that in his judgment Judge Piet Koen introduced a new interpretation of the ANC constitution without affording the parties an opportunity to supplement the papers.
“To allow fair access to court, the new interpretation should first have been articulated fully by the full bench and then the parties should have been invited to deliver supplementary affidavits and further written oral argument on it,” the respondents say in the papers.
The are saying because of this they have been deprived of their constitutional right to a fair hearing.
They say the High Court’s judgment was contrary to the ANC constitution and that therefore an appeal court “may reasonably conclude that the full bench ultimately rewrote the ANC constitution in a form different from what the parties themselves created”.
The court had found that in the case of the 2015 conference this was not so. The PEC members further argue that the application by the disgruntled members was time barred as 180 days had lapsed and that therefore the bench erred in its finding on this.
“To allow an eight month delay in a case as serious politically and consequentially as the present matter is inexcusable,” they argued further.
The move is seen in defiance of the ANC’s national executive committee which is yet to make a final decision on whether the matter should be appealed or not.
Meanwhile,the applicants who took on the Kwazulu-Natal provincial executive committee of the ANC in court have vowed to oppose any appeal by the leadership structure.
Sthembiso Mshengu, the spokesperson for the applicants said the PEC had undermined the ANC national executive by filing the application for leave to appeal. The NEC is expected to meet at the weekend to decide on the matter.
Mshengu said he suspects that there is a plan to disrupt the national conference.
The story will be updated as more details become available