DURBAN, September 28 – The decision taken by the African National Congress (ANC) leadership in KwaZulu-Natal to seek leave to appeal a recent high court ruling that effectively stripped them of their clout indicated the ruling party’s provincial authorities were desperate to cling to power.
This was according to the applicants in the so-called ANC ‘rebels’ case, which saw a band of provincial ANC members challenge the legitimacy and outcome of the party’s 2015 national elective conference. The Pietermaritzburg High Court found in favour of the applicants earlier this month and the party was given 15 days to lodge an appeal.
Speaking in Durban on Thursday on behalf of the applicants, Sthembiso Mshengu said that the Provincial Executive Committee’s (PEC) decision to appeal the verdict was noted “with a deep sense of regret”.
“Outside of the authority of the National Working Committee, these comrades have decided to seek to appeal this decision. To us, this is clearly a demonstration of a body that is a law unto itself and has no regard for the higher authorities of the organisation,” said Mshengu.
He said that the PEC seeking leave to appeal showed that provincial leadership “has an uncontrollable wish to hold on to power that is not due to them”.
The High Court ruling was an opportunity for the ANC “to deal with divisions and rebuild public confidence in the organisation as we approach the general elections in less than two years”, according to Mshengu.
Seeking leave to appeal was an indication that the PEC was working outside of the authority of the mother body, he said. “This clearly indicates how much the defendants disrespect and undermine the ANC National Executive Committee.”
The applicants had instructed their legal team to oppose the application to appeal and “do whatever is legally necessary to enforce the court decision”, he said.
In a short statement released on Wednesday, ANC KZN spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli confirmed that the PEC had filed papers seeking to appeal the judgment.
“This decision does not detract from our commitment to work for the unity of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal and where necessary as the NEC may deem it appropriate, reconvene the Provincial Conference.
“This approach flows from the decision to consult with the Senior Counsel on the prospects of success and the wider implications of this judgment if it remains unchallenged. Notwithstanding our filling of papers, the continuation of the appeal process will depend on final word of the NEC. However, time was and is of essence.”