ANC NEC in two minds over ruling
THE ANC national executive committee’s apparent dithering on whether or not to appeal last month’s Pietermaritzburg High Court’s judgment, which deemed the 2015 KwaZuluNatal elective conference unlawful, is being described as a crisis.
The NEC held a special meeting in Pretoria on Friday, with discussions on whether or not to appeal the ruling at the top of the agenda.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the party would make a decision in three days’ time, so that is now expected on Tuesday.
Dissenting ANC branches went to court aiming to get the party’s 2015 provincial elective conference, which they claim was rigged, declared invalid.
At the time, Sihle Zikalala beat Senzo Mchunu, who was ANC KZN chairperson and provincial premier.
Constitutional law expert Professor Shadrack Gutto said the ANC did not have a coherent view from the secretary-general’s office, the provincial executive committee (PEC) or even the NEC.
“There is a serious crisis of governance within the party and I think that needs to be addressed.
“I don’t know how, but if they don’t the ANC is going to suffer seriously in the 2019 national elections,” he warned.
Gutto added that appealing the judgment would have a serious impact on the December conference.
“Time is running out for them to be able to review that judgment or to send it into appeal and get a ruling before December.
“Assuming that they succeed, then we will wait to see what the appeal court will indicate.
“But if the appeal court rules in favour of going ahead with what it wants to do, we will have to see because even that will take place only much later,” said Gutto.
He said if the appeal court affirms the high court decision, the ANC would be in a conundrum and the party would need to correct the problems it was facing before 2019.
Another political analyst, Professor Susan Booysen, said the NEC might be taking its time making a decision because KZN is a highly contested area and there was ambiguity between the authority of the provincial and national body, despite the NEC being the highest decision-making body.
“They have to maintain the peace… There’s a lot of attempted reconciliation that they’re trying to map out.
“They are also looking at the details of the legal aspects, as it is a pretty serious legal issue and they would have to make sure they don’t throw away time and resources by appealing,” said Booysen.
It could be “very controversial” if the PEC appealed and then lost as they would burn a lot of bridges, she added.
Another political analyst, Imraan Buccus, said the dynamics in the province critically informed how the national dynamics played out, particularly in the lead-up to December.
“I think it (the NEC’s awaited decision) requires a great deal of deliberation and there probably is going to be a serious attempt by the NEC to reach a political solution rather than go the route of appealing the court’s decision.
“The NEC is taking a longer time in order to deliberate more and I would think that they would be moving towards seeking a political situation like what was alluded to last week,” he said.
Buccus doubted the NEC would go the appeal route because the ramifications of that would be a lot more difficult to deal with.
The political solution would be to form a provincial task team with the Senzo Mchunu and Sihle Zikalala camps accommodated in a power-sharing deal.
“The counter-argument from the Zikalala faction could be that you chose to go to court when we said let’s come together and talk about this: Why should we not go the legal route in terms of the appeal?”
‘The NEC must take charge of the challenges facing the movement’
On Friday, Mantashe said the party accepted the court’s judgment, but the NEC needed to further consult legal counsel to gain clarity on rule 17.2.1 of the ANC constitution.
This would determine if they would appeal or not.
Mantashe said the NEC had tasked the national working committee with establishing a strong, inclusive and unifying provincial task team which would be given the job of preparing for a provincial conference in KZN, which had to take place within nine months.
“The NEC does not believe that the ANC should continue to give reasons to the court to intervene in matters of the organisation which should be managed politically by the organisation.
“The NEC must take charge of the challenges facing the movement and deal with them decisively,” Mantashe said.
Current ANC KZN secretary Super Zuma said they respected the NEC’s stance.
“If there is a prospect of success, then we will launch an appeal, and if there is no prospect of success in an appeal, a provincial task team will be put in place,” said Zuma.