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ANC Gauteng conference marred by legal challenge

Outgoing Gauteng Provincial chairperson David Makhura. Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)

Outgoing Gauteng Provincial chairperson David Makhura. Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 26, 2022

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Johannesburg - The Gauteng ANC provincial conference got off to a rocky start following claims of bogus delegates and disputes over the manipulation of delegates.

Yesterday, the provincial conference at the Lakeside Hotel in Benoni suffered another major setback after one of the ANC delegates served the ANC and Gauteng PEC with an interdict.

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Jabulani Derick Sithole, a delegate of ward 33 in Ekurhuleni approached the South Gauteng High Court in Joburg, asking the court to set aside the decision of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) which ordered the Gauteng provincial executive committee (PEC) to deal with the Ekurhuleni disputes which emanated at its regional elective conference last month.

He also wanted the PEC to decide on matters related to the outcome of the Ekurhukleni regional conference, which affected five disqualified branches and their 19 quarantined votes.

The court application emanated from a letter written by ANC’s acting secretary general Paul Mashatile to Gauteng provincial secretary Jacob Khawe on Friday.

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In the letter, Mashatile wrote that the party’s national executive committee has ordered that the provincial elective conference should go ahead. Mashatile also said that the Gauteng PEC should deal with the Ekurhuleni disputes around the 19 quarantined votes at its regional elective conference which was held from 27 to 29 last month in Fourways.

The Ekurhuleni disputes matter was originally referred to the ANC NEC by a task team led by ANC senior member Jeff Radebe. Radebe made recommendations to the ANC NEC - one of which was for the Ekurhuleni elective conference to start afresh.

The ANC, however, referred the matter back to the Gauteng PEC - a decision that aggrieved Sithole and some of the Ekurhuleni branches.

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Delays began on Friday on the first day of the conference, after the disputes also forced the conference to start after 3pm

Briefing the media on Friday after receiving Mashatile’s letter, Khawe said the power to nullify branches of Ekurhuleni specifically was an issue the PEC was engaged on.

“If you have passed verification and you qualify, who has powers to re-verify the branch? And we did not have an answer and then we looked at the guidelines.

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“The guidelines give that authority to a branch member who was present in that meeting and in this instance they were disqualified because the national received a letter from the region and the region was making allegations against these branches and that’s how we ended up being where we are,” he said.

Khawe added that the first meeting of the incoming PEC must receive a handover report from the current committee and then they will take the handover report and deal with the process plan of engaging all these structures and finally come to a determination.

“We want this to be done urgently because there is no leadership in Ekurhuleni and the ANC has to resolve that matter because we are preparing for 2024 (elections) and we can’t prepare for 2024 when we don’t have structures such as the regional leadership,” Khawe explained.

He said it was also in the ANC’s interests as a party to conclude the issue of Ekurhukleni.

“if we had all these processes, documents and reports I am sure today we would have taken a better decision but we didn’t want to make a decision from this and that, my view, your view but we wanted to make a decision based on the quality of the material we gather in the process,” Khawe stated.

Sithole’s court case yesterday almost brought the conference to a stand-still and provincial leadership was forced to consult with their lawyers to enable them to file their replying affidavits in the matter which was heard in court last night.

Despite the court papers, ANC Gauteng chairperson David Makhura ordered the delegates to convene proceedings at the conference.

“We’ve consulted with our legal team. We are going to defend the case,” Makhura said.

While the ANC provincial leadership had earlier in the week promised a smooth and incident-free conference - complaints of bogus delegates and disputes from some of the branches of the West Region and the five regions of Ekurhuleni, dominated the proceedings.

The Gauteng ANC and security spent hours searching for bogus delegates including conducting verification at those booked at nearby hotels in Benoni.

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