By Pinky Khoabane
ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe
THE plethora of cases in the courts, with one faction of the African National Congress (ANC) pitted against another is a serious indictment on the secretary general’s office and points to the ineptitude and need to strengthen that office. Stemming from these cases, it is also clear that the ANC needs to familiarise itself with its own Constitution unless it is being deliberately misinterpreted for personal agendas.
In the latest case, held in Pietermaritzburg yesterday, the ANC KZN provincial executive committee (PEC) appealed an earlier ruling which annulled the PEC and declared the provincial electoral conference of 2015 null and void. Judgement was reserved but Advocate Dali Mpofu who is among the counsel representing many of the disaffected ANC members in these cases tweeted that it would not be long before the current PEC would have to leave office. “After listening to legal arguments & questions of the judges it looks most likely that the KZN PEC will be booted out of office next week….”. Whatever your views on him, the truth is he and other lawyers have been winning these cases.
The day before the Pietermaritzburg case was the ruling in Mangaung which annulled twenty-nine (29) ANC Free State branches which held their branch general meetings (BGMs) between August and September this year. The ruling said the BGMS were “unlawful”, “irregular” and “unconstitutional”. As the case was being heard, the Free State was also holding its hastily convened provincial general council (PGC) to consolidate the nominations made by the branches. Some say the same branches whose BGMs were before the court were being counted in the PGC. You have to ask yourself why anyone would want to convene a PGC within 24 hours notice when it was scheduled for three or so days later.
Last week, Acting Judge C Moosa annulled the Ekurhuleni 6th ANC Youth League Conference that sat on 5th May 2017. The Judge, like others across the country on procedural matters of how ANC conferences are conducted, found the event to be “irregular and inconsistent with the ANCYL Constitution and ANCYL Congress Guidelines”. He declared all Youth League branch executive committees in the region to be null and void. He further instructed the regional youth league structure to “re-organise, re-establish and coordinate the Ekurhuleni Region and branches as per clause 7.2 (c) of the ANCYL Constitution”.
On 13 December, the Johannesburg High Court will hear a case against the Ekurhuleni ANC Women’s League’s regional conference.
These words – “irregular”, “unlawful” and “unconstitutional” – run through all the judgements. It must concern the ANC.
Many lament the fact that ANC members resort to courts but in truth, the complainants have gone through the internal processes with absolutely no outcome.
Many of the disputes currently before the dispute resolution committees following complaints about BGMs in most provinces have not been resolved. Again, the ANC faithful will have to resort to courts to bring urgent matters to finality.
The incoming secretary general needs help in dealing swiftly with complaints that come before the office. Comrade Gwede Mantashe has not executed this function well and the plethora of cases against the ANC bears testimony to this fact.
Like the ANC’s elusive call for unity this year – in the name of Oliver Reginald Tambo no less – the call to nominate competent leaders doesn’t seem to have mattered much. It is under Comrade Senzo Mchunu, now touted for the secretary general’s position on Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s slate that the “unlawful” and “unconstitutional” KZN provincial conference occurred. He was the chairman of ANC KZN then.
The ANC needs to revamp its constitution or ensure members understand and follow guidelines of its constitution to avoid internal disputes going to court. The proposal to increase deputy secretaries to ensure efficiency is no longer one to be debated but to be adopted. The secretary general’s office has been nothing but shambolic.