ANC rebels upbeat as they await high court judgment
"The victory is near‚ the victory is certain!"
These were the words hastily-scribbled on a white placard displayed by rebel ANC branch member Bonginkosi Sisoka outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Thursday after Judge Sharmaine Balton and her bench had reserved judgment in the battle by ANC rebel members in KwaZulu-Natal against their mother body.
The announcement of the judgment being reserved sent Senzo Mchunu supporters into a frenzy.
The so-called rebels have spent nearly two years - through the ANC and the court - to try to have the outcome of the "rigged" 2015 provincial elective conference‚ which saw Sihle Zikalala defeat Mchunu for the chairman position‚ declared null and void.
"We know and have always known we will be victorious‚" shouted Sisoka from behind the public order police barricades.
Police tried to keep him and a sea of other jubilant Mchunu supporters at bay as they pushed to meet their leaders as they emerged from the court.
In his closing argument to the court‚ the rebels' lawyer‚ Adv Tembeka Ngcukaitobi‚ revealed that on 27 October 2015 - only days before the start of the conference - ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe issued a directive that the conference should not proceed. He also revealed that such a move would have disenfranchised 30 percent of the membership whose readiness was buckling under pressure of the audits.
The conference had nonetheless proceeded.
ANC lawyer Adv Greg Harpur SC argued that then chair Mchunu had sanctioned that the conference proceed despite several glitches encountered in the various branches.
"Even during the conference a number of irregularities were picked up like delegates wearing two voting tags‚" he said‚ singling out then NEC deployee in KwaZulu-Natal Joe Phaahla.
National executive committee members like Lindiwe Sisulu and even Phaahla himself had raised red flags about the legitimacy of some voting delegates attending the conference.
"They questioned why this was still going ahead when they were still dealing with branch appeals. Many NEC members were questioning the legitimacy of voting and were very suspicious about some processes‚" he said.
He said they advised that it was urgent that they revisited the branches so that the process would not be construed as punitive to them as some of the only outstanding issues were merely signatures.
Another lawyer for the rebel ANC members‚ Adv Griffiths Madonsela‚ revealed that Ward 17 in Msinga (Tugela Ferry) and Ward 9 in Umlalazi (eShowe) had failed the audit and had been disqualified but it had voting delegates at the conference.
Earlier in the morning‚ Harpur had rubbished as fake the Twitter account from which the results of the elective conference were announced prematurely. Harpur called it mischievous.
"The tweet was not from an official ANC account and it was a fake tweet. As Mr Zikalala said it's mischievous to rely on the tweet. Mr Zikalala does not know the source of the tweet‚" Harpur submitted.
However‚ Harpur did acknowledge that the tweet‚ released around 10pm while voting was underway‚ was accurate regarding the final figure received by defeated chairmanship contestant Senzo Mchunu.