Pressure now on ANC HQ: Party’s national leadership to decide on validity of EC election

 The validity of the outcome of the controversial ANC Eastern Cape provincial conference is now in the hands of Luthuli House to determine which side to believe in the dispute.

There is also the possibility of the disgruntled grouping – which had their initial case to have the conference interdicted, thrown out of court yesterday – submitting another court application to have the conference outcome nullified.

This means that whether the Phumulo Masualle grouping goes to court or not, the national leadership of the ANC still has to hear the dispute brought by the faction which lost the conference.

The national executive committee (NEC) deployees who oversaw the chaotic ANC Eastern Cape elective conference and the group that left the conference midway, following violence inside the conference venue, will present their cases.

Oscar Mabuyane was elected as provincial chairman, beating his comrade-turned-rival Phumulo Masualle. Mabuyane’s provincial executive committee (PEC) is already preparing for another court battle, with the new chairman telling reporters that he expected another court challenge calling for the nullification of the conference outcome.

Following the victory in court yesterday, the party’s re-elected deputy secretary Helen Sauls-August said they were not deterred by threats of another court case.

She said: “We believe that this is the PEC that will continue with the work notwithstanding that there will be many more challenges brought against us which we cannot stop from happening.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe told the Dispatch that their attitude towards the conference would be guided by what the report of the NEC deployees says.

“The NEC deployees ran the conference and they will give us a report of what happened … it will determine whether the conference was valid or not.

“Their view is hardly opposed, we listen to them,” said Mantashe

He said they would consider an appeal only if it was made officially.

“Those who are unhappy, can appeal and we will look into that. But we don’t go around hunting for appeals,” he said – perhaps referring to reports that some senior leaders within the party were pushing the losing grouping to lodge an appeal.

The deployees have already indicated they deem the conference to have been credible and above board.

One of the ANC deployees, Lindiwe Zulu, said they had tried their best to be precise over what they thought would be a credible conference.

“We are going to report to the officials, the NWC [national working committee] and ultimately the NEC about those issues and those structures will have to move with speed to intervene and solve those issues to avoid a repetition of the KZN scenario wherein we were slow.

“The NEC has recently discussed that we have to be fast in dealing with issues such as the ones we saw in the EC which are a reflection of the challenges facing the ANC today,” she said.

This comes as the pro-Masualle group confirmed they would petition the party’s top six and NWC pleading with them to nullify the conference outcome.

Masualle campaigner, former ANC Youth League deputy president Andile Lungisa, yesterday said they have pinned their hopes on the ANC higher structures to resolve the matter.

“We will wait and see. I cannot say much for now as I respect ANC internal structures and discipline.”

They said Masualle, who was the chairman of the conference’s steering committee, had in fact adjourned the conference before the violence erupted inside the venue.

Masualle is expected to submit a detailed report to Mantashe and the NWC.

The fracas saw chairs flying and iron rods used by delegates against each other.

The Masualle grouping which approached the courts on Saturday while the conference was under way seeking relief to interdict it from proceeding, has since abandoned that route banking on the higher party structures like the NEC to rule in their favour.

It was struck off the roll by the East London High Court yesterday and their legal representative Mvuzo Notyesi was not present (See sidebar).

One of the applicants in the failed interdict, OR Tambo ward 22 branch chairman Baxolile Kulu said they would approach the court within the next week to seek the nullification “of the entire conference”.