Court bid by disgruntled ANC KZN members thrown out of court

20 March 2019 - 17:51 By Bongani Mthethwa
Judge Rishi Seegobin dismissed both applications with costs, saying they were without "merit, frivolous and lack foundation."
Judge Rishi Seegobin dismissed both applications with costs, saying they were without "merit, frivolous and lack foundation."
Image: Stephanie de Sakutin

Two separate applications by disgruntled KwaZulu-Natal ANC members to force the holding of a regional elective conference have been dismissed with costs by the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

Two groups of members of the ANC’s Moses Mabhida region - who claim to represent 77 branches which includes Pietermaritzburg, Richmond, Mooi River and Camperdown -  went to court in October last year and in January this year, respectively, in a bid to compel the ruling party to hold their elective conference.

The branch members were seeking an order declaring that the decision taken between 28 to 30 September last year and communicated by the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) on October 3 prohibiting the Moses Mabhida region from proceeding to hold its elective conference, unlawful and invalid.

They also wanted the court to declare that the Moses Mabhida region was entitled and authorised to hold its regional conference last year on a date that would be ordered by the court and that the ANC NEC and KZN ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) be ordered and directed to take all “reasonable and necessary” steps to organise the sitting of the elective conference.

The branch members also wanted the KZN ANC PEC and Moses Mabhida task team to be directed to comply with all the constitutional obligations and policy guidelines, including the arranging of the pre-conference logistical requirements, opening, officiating and supervising the elective conference.

But in a 32-page judgement delivered on Wednesday, Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Rishi Seegobin dismissed both applications with costs, saying they were without "merit, frivolous and lack foundation."

Seegobin said in as much as the applicants asserted that all preparations for the holding of the elective conference had been completed, they had not put up a “single shred of evidence in terms of the conference guidelines to substantiate this.”

“The last audit process was finalised sometime in March 2018, almost one year ago. Whether this audit is still valid is questionable. I would imagine that ANC branches are not static structures that compromise a fixed number of members and no more.

“I have no doubt that membership to these branches is fluid and changes on an ongoing basis where people are entitled to join and leave at will. An audit serves to confirm the number of paid up members in each branch as it is essential that only members in good standing are eligible to vote. There could be a myriad of other reasons why a proper audit is crucial for the holding of conference of this nature by the ANC,” said the judge.

He said in both the answering papers and in argument the ANC had emphasised that the decision of the NEC, communicated through the party’s secretary general on October 3 last year was a blanket directive that affected all regions which failed to hold their elective conferences simultaneously.

“The directive does not target Moses Mabhida region specifically, for some ulterior motive. The region simply failed to hold its regional conference and events have now overtaken it,” said Seegobin.

He said the assertion by the branch members that they had been “unduly thwarted and hampered in their efforts to hold the regional conference” had been effectively denied by the ANC which includes the Moses Mabhida region itself.

“In my view the applicants have exercised an individual right to be members of the ANC. They do so by choice and as such they subject themselves to the will of the majority. They are also required to respect the decisions of the NEC (which is the highest decision making structure of the ANC) provided of course that such decisions are lawful, and in keeping with the provisions, not only of the ANC constitution, but also those of the republic.

“The court should be disinclined to regulate and I might add, interfere in the internal processes of the ANC or any other political party for that matter in the clear absence of any illegality. All in all I consider that these applications are without merit, they are frivolous and lack foundation,” said the judge.