ANC warned to suspend hearing
EMBATTLED ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Makhosi Khoza’s lawyer has warned the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal to suspend the disciplinary hearing against his client scheduled to take place in Durban on Sunday, describing it as a futile exercise.
Advocate Smanga Sethene was adamant yesterday that the hearing should not go ahead despite the provincial executive committee’s insistence that it would continue disciplining Khoza, despite the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruling early this week that the body had been elected unlawfully.
The provincial disciplinary committee comprises its chairperson, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, ANC Women’s League provincial deputy chairperson, Ravi Pillay, the MEC of Human Settlements and Public Works, and Makhosini Nkosi, mayor of Newcastle Municipality, who all have legal backgrounds.
The ruling, delivered on Tuesday by Judge Jerome Mnguni, was in favour of four supporters aligned to former premier and party provincial chairperson Senzo Mchunu.
The ruling declared that the party had breached its constitution by holding a Pietermaritzburg ANC provincial conference in 2015 instead of 2016.
However, the PEC on Wednesday and in defiance of the NEC decision announced that it planned to launch an appeal against the court ruling.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe had said only the NEC (and not provincial structures) has a right to decide whether to appeal or not.
It is understood that the PEC is expected to meet the NEC today to discuss the appeal.
Party provincial spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli had said the PEC would still continue prosecuting Khoza because the “court nullified the conference, but the PEC can only be dissolved by the NEC and not by the court”.
Sethene disagreed, saying the PEC should abide by the court ruling and cease making further decisions. “Once a court has declared a structure to have been elected inconsistent with the (ANC’s) constitution, that structure ceases to have any jurisdiction to exercise authority over any person.”
There appears to be confusion around whether the PEC can continue with business as usual in the wake of this week’s judgment.
Ntuli said although the committee is part of the PEC structure, it operates independently, and therefore it would continue with the Khoza hearing as scheduled.
However, a senior ANC member, who is also an MPL, said the fact that the committee was appointed by the PEC and remains a part of its structure means it was affected by the court ruling until the PEC officially files appeal papers.
Sethene had planned to meet Khoza yesterday to take instruction on whether or not to attend the hearings.
The disciplinary committee could still continue with the hearing and could pass a verdict against Khoza in absentia.
“It would be a futile exercise (to continue with the hearings) because the appeal committee of the ANC would effectively set that decision aside because there would be an issue of the authority,” Sethene said.
He said he was of a strong view that the PEC should suspend its operations until it clears its legitimacy “because one of the charges that Khoza faces is that she insulted the current leadership that has now been dissolved by having said that they come clean in court so that they can be regarded as legitimate”. “This is one of the key charges.” Khoza had protested against having to appear before the committee in KwaZulu-Natal because of threats made to her life and as a result Sethene arrived at the hearing without her on Sunday.
Sethene said his client did not attend because of “renewed threats” to her life. “Otherwise, she is prepared to appear before the forum constituted in terms of the ANC constitution.”
He said the ANC constitution provided for a hearing to take place in another province should those expected to appear feel that their lives were at risk.
“Alternatively, it should be heard by the national disciplinary committee, but I think people are apprehensive because the chairperson of that committee is Derek Hanekom, and he has expressed similar sentiments to Khoza.”