Johannesburg - Leadership battles are intensifying in the ANC, with structures taking the organisation to courts.
The party's Mangaung region has become the latest to follow this route, approaching the Free State High Court due to what it terms the "slow pace of conference preparations".
The region, which filed an urgent application against provincial and national leaders, is also complaining about the validity of the interim structures.
The group is calling on the court to intervene in the party's "failure and neglect" to take necessary steps for new leadership to be elected in branches, regions and the province. The application, dated June 9, was launched against the ANC, treasurer-general and acting secretary-general Paul Mashatile, the Free State interim provincial committee (IPC), its co-ordinator Paseka Nompondo, convenor Mxolisi Dukwana, the interim regional committee (IRC) and the branches of the ANC in the Free State.
Its members are part of a group that protested last month, saying the IPC failed to carry out its mandates since it was appointed in the previous year. They handed over a memorandum of demand to the IPC.
They set deadlines for the IPC to conclude branch meetings by the end of May, the Mangaung regional conference by the end of June, and the provincial conference by the end of July. However, there has been no response from the leadership.
The applicants, Ditaba Johannes Mokhutle, Betty Nozenza Cezula, and Thabiso Petrus Selienane, said the ANC had breached its constitution by delaying conferences and allowing interim leadership to remain in position.
The trio said the IPC should vacate the office as their term has expired, adding that the appointment of the interim regional committee (IRC) by the IPC breached the ANC constitution and should be ruled unlawful, invalid, null and void. They said the appointment should be set aside.
The party was given 10 days to respond to the application.
The members want the court to force the ANC to show that: "The issue of and dissemination to all Free State ANC branches and regions of an updated and/or revised roadmap for holding of branch elections and all other pre-conferences processes necessary to ensure the participation of the ANC members in the upcoming regional, provincial and national policy and/or elective conference to be held in the remainder of the 2022 calendar year."
The members also want branch secretaries to be granted access to the ANC membership management system. They added that they want the relevant "wherewithal" to hold lawful branch biennial general meetings (BBGMs) and branch general meetings (BGMs).
They said the IPC should be disbanded, and a new leadership should be appointed to run the affairs of the ANC at regional and provincial levels until a new provincial executive committee (PEC) is duly elected.
One of the members, Mduduzi Nkambule, said the IPC had failed dismally. He said branches collapsed under the IPC leadership.
"Nothing is happening. It's a disaster. There are no branches, and there are no branch executive committees (BECs). We don't understand what their mandate was. The mandate of the interim structure is to take the province to the congresses. That is what the region is fighting for," said Nkambule.
IPC spokesperson Oupa Khoabane confirmed the committee had received the court papers. Khoabane denied that the preparations for the conference were slow, saying the party had embarked on a programme to revive the structures.
"The ANC Free State embarked on a programme to revive the structures where they are defunct and assist those that are found to be functional and in good standing to get into a process that will culminate in-branch conferences. The process is underway. The IPC addressed all the regions about the process towards a provincial conference last week," said Khoabane.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe did not respond to questions on Friday.