By Bongani Tshabalala
BLOEMFONEIN -Expelled members of ANC who have since formed their political party MAP 16, vow not to return to ANC despite Supreme court of Appeal judging in their favour that the Provincial Executive Committee that fired them was unlawful.
“This particular councilor Shashapa Motaung, (one of the appellants),is our member and by no means an ANC member, we are very clear that we are not going back to ANC under any condition,” said Map16 spokesperson Paratlane Motloung.
In its ruling, the SCA said: “The order of the Court below is set aside and replaced by the following: It is declared that the Provincial Conference for the Free State Province that took place on 18 and 19 May 2018 was held in violation of the Court order of 29 November 2017 under case number 5942/2017 and that the said Provincial Conference, its decisions/resolutions and/or outcome are unlawful and unconstitutional. The declaration of invalidity mentioned in paragraph 3 of the order shall only be effective as from the date of the delivery of this judgment.”
In declaring the provincial conference unlawful, the SCA said every decision that was taken at the conference itself and every other decision since then was invalid, unlawful and unconstitutional which include expulsion of members of Map16 But Map16 have since expressed their lack of interest to return to ANC.
The 16 councillors were expelled for voting with the opposition in a secret ballot during the ousting of former Executive Mayor of Maluti-a-Phofung Vusi Tshabalala in 2018.
After their expulsion 15 ward councillors contested their wards as independent candidates and snatched ten wards from ANC which retained only five.
The expelled councillors later registered a political party Map16, which is now ready to contest the coming local government elections. The sixteenth was a Proportional Representation,(PR).
Meanwhile the ANC FS, Secretary of the PEC in question, Paseko Nopondo has hinted their intention to appeal.
“We have received the judgement and we are appealing ,” said Nopondo in an interview with SABC.
Meanwhile the mother body has since released a statement on Wednesday night, that they are going to study the judgement and convene the meeting.
In a statement ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said they were still going through the judgment and would convene a special and urgent national executive committee meeting which would give direction.
“We call on all ANC structures in the province to remain disciplined and calm, whilst we study the judgment and its implications for the movement, and in particular the Provincial Executive Committee elected at the Conference. The National Executive Committee will convene urgently to give direction,” Mabe said in a statement.
In 2017 the Free State high court declared that such a conference should not go ahead until all branch general meetings had been held in a lawful manner in accordance with the ANC’s constitution.
In May 2018 the province held a conference at which the appellants felt that branch meetings were marred by irregularities. The aggrieved members approached the court seeking an order declaring that the conference was held in contravention of the 2017 court order. However, the judge dismissed their case in 2019. They then approached the SCA to appeal the judgment.
The SCA has reversed the 2019 judgment and declared the provincial conference invalid.
This means the ANC national executive committee may now have to appoint an interim structure.
This is based on complaints arising from several branch general meetings in the Thabo Mofutsanyana region where delegates who voted at the provincial conference were elected. In several wards, the meetings either did not meet quorum requirements, the voting took place without an independent deployee to oversee them, attendees were not ANC members in good standing (membership either expired or in arrears) or signatures were forged to make up a quorum.
The SCA said the province failed to conduct audits of membership in branches and regions less than nine months before the provincial conference, as required by the ANC constitution.
According to the SCA, the party had to audit all 309 branches in the Free State before convening a provincial conference, something that was not done ahead of the May 2018 conference.
“The importance of auditing is underscored by the fact that it ensures that the participants in the ANC process are fully paid up members of the ANC who can participate in the elections and vote for those they want to lead them and not non-members. Thus, prior to the holding of the PC an audit process of all branches and membership must be conducted,” the judgment reads.