The participation of the OR Tambo regional leadership in the upcoming ANC provincial elective conference hangs in the balance as the Mthatha High Court is set to hear the merits of a case that seeks to nullify the regional conference of 2015.
An application brought by OR Tambo branch member Bandile Ntamo claims that deceased members’ details were used to fake delegates at the disputed conference, which took place from October 16 to 18 of that year.
Respondents in the matter are the ANC’s OR Tambo regional executive committee (REC), its provincial executive committee and its national executive committee.
Should the court rule the disputed conference null and void tomorrow, the 25-member OR Tambo REC will be barred from taking part in the provincial conference, which starts at the East London ICC on Thursday.
This comes after the ANC suffered a blow last Friday when its application for condonation to file supplementary affidavits, was dismissed with costs.
The party was bruised from the first day the matter headed for court on September 14 when it emerged they had not filed answering affidavits.
This gave rise to the application for condonation to explain why they had not filed affidavits, which they were expected to do within 10 days after the summons were issued in April.
The court rejected the application, saying the party had five months to do the right thing. The respondents will now have to argue in court tomorrow as to why the 2015 conference should not be nullified.
Seasoned lawyer Mvuzo Notyesi, who is representing the applicant, Ntamo, in the matter, said they were confident that they had a strong case.
“It is unfortunate and regrettable that leaders within the organisation are elected under fraudulent circumstances as we are going to prove this in court [tomorrow],” said Notyesi.
“It is even worse that there would be such desperate attempts to forge the names of deceased people in order to validate a conference which we view as a serious threat to democracy within the ANC.
“While one cannot preempt the outcomes of any court matter, the fact of the matter is that I am yet to see a court that will allow election of leaders or delegates by deceased persons, which is a clear fraudulent act. Therefore I think we have a watertight case.”
ANC provincial spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane said they had noted the defeat suffered on the condonation application and that the party was optimistic that they had a strong argument to put forward in court tomorrow.
“We are still optimistic that at least there may still be a consideration of facts in front of the sitting judge when our lawyers argue in court.
“The ANC will await the outcome if possibly it is concluded on Tuesday [tomorrow] and then we shall adjust accordingly as per whatever ruling is handed down upon conclusion of court proceedings.”
Qoboshiyane added that although the party held the view that the matter could have been dealt with differently through political solutions, they acknowledged and accepted it was now before courts – a process the party would respect.
“We are looking at the provincial conference on Thursday. We shall have to work with speed and make the amends – but beyond the court case, the ANC will not collapse,” said Qoboshiyane.
A ruling in favour of the application will not, however, affect provincial conference delegates from the branches of OR Tambo region – the nullification would only cast out the 25 members of the REC. — firstname.lastname@example.org