Potential ANC crisis just months ahead of crucial elective conference
Nathi Olifant | 2017-02-12 10:20:45.0
Presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. File photo.
Image by: Getty Images
Presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s KwaZulu-Natal powerbase could be thrust into turmoil after lawyers representing the ANC in a crucial court battle have pulled out.
It is a move that deals a huge blow to the ANC’s leadership in KwaZulu-Natal‚ who have been taken on in court by a group of party rebels who want the results of the November 2015 provincial elective conference declared null and void. On the eve of local government elections last year the ANC was hauled to court after over 200 aggrieved members went to the Pietermaritzburg High Court. The hotly contested conference saw Sihle Zikalala defeat Senzo Mchunu to become the province’s chairman.
Citing procedural flaws‚ the group believe that none of the leaders – including secretary Super Zuma and chairman Sihle Zikalala – were elected legitimately. They argue that their delegates were systematically blocked from taking part in the election of the officials and that votes were rigged.
If the rebels win the case it could force the party to re-host its conference‚ a potential disaster given that there are just 10 months before the ANC hosts its national elective conference where Dlamini-Zuma is widely expected to be backed for president. KZN sends more delegates to the conference than any other‚ and the person the province backs has never been defeated in the presidential battle.
The Times has in its possession court documents that show that the rebel group’s lawyers‚ Ngubane Wills Inc‚ filed a notice of withdrawal as attorneys of record last Friday. No reasons were provided. The ANC and its lawyers have not yet responded to questions about the latest development.
The withdrawal comes after several postponements in the case‚ with the ANC repeatedly arguing that the rebels were withholding crucial information.
It is also speculated that the lawyers’ withdrawal could be linked to meetings hosted between the ANC’s top brass in KZN over the last few weeks.
The Times has established that ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize met with Mchunu and national executive committee member Bheki Cele to discuss the deep fractures in KZN. The rebel group is believed to have backed Mchunu in the battle with Zikalala‚ but Mchunu has denied they are acting on his behalf in the court matter.
While both parties have ruled out any prospect of an out-of-court settlement‚ it is understood that Mkhize’s initial approach was the get the ANC and the rebels to abandon the litigation. Mchunu was present at the KZN January 8 rall in KwaDukuza where Mkhize was billed as the main speaker.
But a source close to Mkhize said the treasurer-general was meeting all ANC structures across the country with a view to instilling unity ahead of the national elective conference.
“He meets everyone‚ all ANC members. Meeting Mchunu was not an isolated incident. He has met amakhosi in the Eastern Cape‚ met religious leaders‚ business leaders and many estranged ANC members‚” he said.
Last year ANC provincial secretary Super Zuma said they were confident they had a good case to defend.
Zuma declined to state the reasons why Ngubane Wills Inc withdrew‚ but said the party will still be defending the action by the rebel group.
“Yes we can confirm that there has been a withdrawal from our lawyers. But they are still our lawyers and we will continue to use them in other cases. There have been new lawyers that have taken over and we are still defending the matter. They will be meeting with the appellant lawyers next week Tuesday and we will take things from there‚” he said.
– TMG Digital/The Times