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ANC top brass have stripped some North-West, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal branches and structures of voting rights at the hotly contested national elective conference which started on at Nasrec, Gauteng, today.
This comes after three court judgments delivered a blow last week to the supporters of national executive committee (NEC) member Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, especially in the North West region of Bojanala on Friday.
The high courts in the three provinces – NDZ’s strongholds – ruled in favour of her detractors in separate cases.
The rulings effectively disbanded the Free State provincial executive committee (PEC), forced its Kwazulu-Natal counterparts from office pending the outcome of their appeal and barred the Bojanala region from taking part in the conference.
The leaders of the affected provinces’ leaders – Supra Mahumapelo of North-West, Sihle Zikalala of KwaZulu-Natal and Ace Magashule of Free State – are staunch supporters of Dlamini-Zuma.
Briefing the media at Nasrec this morning, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the party’s highest decision making body between national conferences took the decision after its special meeting on Saturday morning.
“The NEC met about the three judgements that were given yesterday so that we must ensure we don’t do anything that will contaminate the National Conference. All the structures that are nullified will not be voting delegates at the conference,” he said.
The Pietermaritzburg High Court declared the KZN provincial leadership null and void, thus stripping Zikalala and his team of power.
Rival factions in the province have been at loggerheads since Zikalala toppled former Premier Senzo Mchunu as provincial chairperson in 2015. Zikalala supports Dlamini-Zuma while Mchunu as standing the position of secretary general in the slate of presidential hopeful, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
In Bloemfontein, the High Court set aside the outcomes of the recent Free State ANC’s elective conference while the High Court in North West declared the Bojanala regional conference null and void.
Mantashe said the NEC decision was taken to ensure the conference runs smoothly with no chances of people complaining that it was contaminated.
He stressed that the affected delegates would not be chalked out of conference since they were at the venue already. Instead they would be given the status of non-voting participants.
“We will not try any idea that might contaminate the conference. Branches that are cited in the cases will not vote at conference, we will not even allow them to vote, they will not vote. We will keep them, but they will not vote on any matter,” he said.
Mantashe said other matters relating to the branches and provinces would be addressed after the conference.
He maintained that he wanted to leave the secretary general’s office having run a credible conference.
The current NEC’s term expires immediately when the nominations start.
“When I retire as SG, I must be happy having run a good conference. There are no hopefuls, there are people who have been nominated,” he said.
Speaking to African Times on the sidelines of the conference, ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said more than 100 delegates have been affected by the NEC’s decision.
“We are talking about 106. It’s 38 plus 14 plus 27 plus 27. If they still want to pursue this matter, it’s a different matter. It’s a legal recourse. But for the purpose of this conference, because we want to protect its integrity, we have decided to comply [with court rulings].”
Kodwa added that the conference has been delayed to allow Tshwane delegates to register and for the credentials to be finalised.
He said those who might be tempted to disrupt the conference, to register whatever concerns, would be dealt with harshly.
“We will take you out, without touching the ground, debate outside and we will not delay or hesitate even to disqualify you as a delegate, and make sure we subject you to the disciplinary processes of the ANC,” Kodwa maintained.
The conference is set to start at 2pm with Zuma expected to deliver his political report.