ANC takes a hard line on disgruntled ANC Free State members
The ANC has taken a hard line against disgruntled Free State members who want the party's national executive committee (NEC) to intervene in their battle to have last week's provincial elective conference nullified.
The group is threatening to go to court if the NEC meeting this weekend does not set aside the conference.
"We want the NEC to declare the conference null and void; they must meet with the two factions and set up a proper interim committee that is equally representative of all factions," said Monnapule Ntamo, who is one of the complainants.
The group has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa and the other top five ANC officials demanding a full list of delegates who attended the conference, in order to help build their case for a fresh elective conference.
In its lawyer's letter seen by News24, the disgruntled members argue that most of the people who attended the conference did not have the mandate of their branches, or that the delegates that were present were fraudulent.
Demand for proof
They also claim that the conference that elected Free State MEC for police, roads and transport Sam Mashinini as chair and William Bulwane as deputy did not have the blessing of the ANC's national working committee - which is responsible for the day to day running of the party.
"Our clients instruct us that the Free State provincial conference went on despite there being any pronouncements from the national working committee on the state of readiness of the province to hold provincial conference," the letter states.
In a previous letter, the group had claimed that they learnt at short notice - and through social media - that a conference was due to be held.
However, the ANC responded to the group's lawyer demanding proof that the legal firm had power of attorney to represent the members and whether they were bona fide members with paid up membership.
In a letter dated May 23 2018, ANC legal adviser Krish Naidoo wrote that "bald allegations" by the members are unhelpful.
"We want to establish whether your clients are prepared to abide by the ANC constitution and exhaust internal domestic dispute-resolution remedies provided therein," Naidoo writes.
He argued that the demand by the ANC for proof of powers of attorney before responding to the demands was reasonable.
"We remind you in another incident of threatened litigation against the ANC in December last year, your office purported to act on behalf of ANC members from South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. The ANC subsequently established from its members that they did not give your office any authority to act on their behalf," Naidoo stated.
'Crisis in Free State'
The same legal firm, Selepe Attorneys, was representing ANC members who claimed their votes were excluded from the final tally of the December elective conference. About 68 votes were quarantined by the party, causing an uproar.
However, Ntamo says the response by the ANC shows they are not realising the crisis facing the party in the Free State.
He claims they had no choice but to approach lawyers because they have failed to get any responses from the party.
"We have written to the ANC in the province, and at national collectively, or as individuals, but we did not get any response," he said.
"The ANC NEC must realise there is a crisis in Free State if we still want to win elections in Free State," Ntamo said.
Disgruntled members have demanded a more representative interim structure to lead the party to fresh elections.
The NEC is due to meet this weekend and decide whether the conference stands.
In December, the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein nullified a provincial elective conference that re-elected former provincial chair Ace Magashule.
Magashule was elected secretary general of the ANC at the subsequent national conference.
- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter