The ANC’s domination of Mpumalanga province’s politics could come to an end if the court rules against the organisation’s dominant faction.
Last year a group of ANC activists lodged a court action to challenge the organisation’s list conference and legitimacy of at least two regions and the PEC.
Spokesperson for the applicants, Jealous Nyalunga, confirmed that the court case was going ahead at the Mpumalanga high court on 28 March.
“We have engaged with the ANC leadership at all levels, but they don’t want to listen, but they’ll be forced to listen to the courts,” said Nyalunga.
He acknowledged that if the court ruled in the applicant’s favour, the implications are that Mpumalanga ANC’s candidates list could be declared null and void.
This could lead to the disqualification of the organisation from participating in the elections in Mpumalanga, because the deadline for the submission of candidates to the IEC has passed.
Nyalunga said they were not bothered if the organisation is disqualified from contesting the elections because even if the ANC participates, they’d still be excluded.
“That’s the risk that we are prepared to take. We have been denied of the opportunity to participate in the ANC, so we have nothing to lose,” said Nyalunga.
Candidtes nominations closed on 13 February 2019, and parties have been given “non-compliance” notices, which they have to respond to by 29 March 2019.
Non-compliance matters focus on those candidates who have not complied with the IEC requirements, such as missing documents.
Electoral Commission of South Africa’s deputy chief electoral officer, Masego Shiburi, said the IEC wouldn’t want to be drawn into the political issues affecting Mpumalanga, but agreed to clarify the IEC’s processes.
“There is no opportunity beyond the 13thfor a party to change its list. If a court rules that that list is invalid – then that list is invalid, unless the applicants in their papers ask that the court replaces submissions that they made on the 13thby another list. In the absence of that there is no opportunity to amend its list,” said Shiburi.
These developments mean that the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) will have the opportunity to take over the Mpumalanga legislature and be installed as the first non-ANC government since 1994.
In October last year, ANC member, Ronald Malumane and others, took the organisation to court over alleged irregularities which included the creation of alleged bogus branches.
Some believe that the fake branches possibly catapulted David Mabuza to the organisation’s deputy president position in 2017. In 2018 president Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Mabuza as the country’s deputy president.
Meanwhile, after his election at the ANC’s historic conference at NASREC in December 2017, the organisation’s Secretary-General, Ace Magashule, dissolved all the bogus Mpumalanga branches.
This paved the way for Malumane and others to challenge the legitimacy of the ANC’s two regions, Bohlabela and Ehlanzeni, which had the most of the bogus branches.
They also challenged the legitimacy of the provincial executive committee, which they claim is a product of the bogus branches.
When the case started in October 2018, Judge Sekgopotje Mphahlele postponed the matter to 13 December 2018, at the instance of both parties to give “internal processes” a chance.
Nothing came of the “internal processes”.
On 13 December 2018, a new judge, Brian Mashile was presiding over the case, forcing another postponement, which the defendants wanted to be after the May 2019 elections.
Malumane opposed the lengthy postponement and on 4 February 2019, judge Mphahlele ruled that the case continue on 28 March instead.
Mpumalanga ANC provincial spokesperson, Sasekani Manzini, brushed aside the case.
“Our view has always been that members of the ANC must exhaust all available internal dispute resolution mechanisms of the ANC, before resorting to courts. This view informs our attitude of always been (sic) available to engage with aggrieved members with the intention of finding lasting solutions to the problems confronting our organization.
“So, from the onset note that the PEC is forever available to engage with members of the ANC and even now we are still engaging with them.
“It is unfortunate that we have to defend ourselves in courts meaning we will be represented in court, on issues we feel the ANC through the PEC and NEC are attending to and there exist possibilities of resolving them inside of the ANC.
“We will respect any decision of the court, and abide by it within the constitutional framework of the Republic,” said Manzini.
She also said that members of the ANC who are MECs and MPLs are not worried about losing their jobs.
“I doubt there is any member of the ANC who is worried about losing a job, because in the ANC we do not have jobs, but are deployed to serve the people at the behest of the movement. So, it is (not) a right to be (an) MPL or MEC, but a privilege the ANC can withdraw at any time.
“We are truly not worried, but rather more focused our election work to ensure a decisive victory for the ANC in the upcoming General Elections,” she said.