Now move be­yond the rul­ing

Sunday Tribune - - NEWS&VIEWS -

THERE was some ju­bi­la­tion out­side the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg High Court on Tues­day af­ter the judg­ment nul­li­fy­ing the ANC’S pro­vin­cial elec­tions seem­ingly won by the Sihle Zikalala camp in 2015.

Sup­port­ers of the camp that lost were per­haps jus­ti­fied in cel­e­brat­ing their vic­tory this week, but ev­ery­one needs to be re­minded that the war is not over.

Fears of height­ened ten­sions that may lead to vi­o­lence must be taken se­ri­ously. Enough po­lit­i­cally-re­lated blood-let­ting has been wit­nessed in this prov­ince.

The ANC’S lead­er­ship needs to do some­thing be­fore it’s too late. With its na­tional elec­tive con­fer­ence around the cor­ner, there should be no doubt how lit­tle time is left for de­ci­sive ac­tion.

So what now for the losers, win­ners and the na­tional lead­er­ship?

Our view is sim­ple. Every per­son­al­ity has a right to a de­fence in court – in­clud­ing tak­ing a court de­ci­sion to a higher level if granted per­mis­sion.

How­ever, even af­ter the rul­ing that may be sought from the Supreme Court of Ap­peal is fi­nally de­liv­ered – which will not be any time soon – the glar­ing in­ter­nal prob­lems will still be there, if not wors­ened.

The lead­er­ship and its struc­tures have pow­ers and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties vested in them by the con­sti­tu­tion to take de­ci­sions in the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s in­ter­est. There is noth­ing to stop them ini­ti­at­ing their own pro­cesses and tak­ing steps to deal with the prob­lems which threaten not only the party but peace and sta­bil­ity in the the prov­ince and coun­try.

It was there­fore re­as­sur­ing to hear words such as “di­a­logue” ut­tered af­ter the judg­ment. Ne­go­ti­a­tions are what brought us the rel­a­tive peace and sta­bil­ity we have en­joyed since the demo­cratic dis­pen­sa­tion of 1994.

Some saw in the rul­ing an op­por­tu­nity to deal decisively with long-fes­ter­ing prob­lems in the party. These are a source of angst for many of its mem­bers, veter­ans and sup­port­ers, who are in­creas­ingly ques­tion­ing the mean­ing of their sac­ri­fices and their vot­ing since 1994.

Those watch­ing from the out­side should also be con­cerned as such crises will have a neg­a­tive im­pact on our young democ­racy.

The courts can be im­por­tant ar­biters on com­plex dis­putes but can never be a sub­sti­tute for ne­go­ti­a­tions and true lead­er­ship. It was good to see lead­ers from dif­fer­ent camps to­gether mourn­ing at umz­imkhulu coun­cil­lor Sindiso Ma­gaqa’s fu­neral. Per­haps the war­ring fac­tions can still get to­gether for talks.

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