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Another showdown looms in the ANC NEC as it meets on Friday to decide on the fate of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive committee (PEC).
The faction loyal to President Jacob Zuma is preparing to fight for the party to defend the PEC in the wake of a Pietermaritzburg High Court judgment that nullified its 2015 elective conference.
Some members want the NEC to appeal the decision itself, while others say the current PEC must be disbanded.
A pro-Zuma NEC member told News24 that they would fight for the KZN PEC to remain in office and that the only way this could be achieved was through lodging a complaint with a higher court.
“Otherwise the current PEC must be appointed as the PTT [provincial task team] in charge of the province,” said the source.
“You can call it ‘ntwa ya di bono’ [loosely translated to ‘a fight to end’] – what is going to happen when we meet.”
The special NEC meeting, which had been scheduled for Monday, September 18, after the top six met with the KZN PEC at the party’s Luthuli House headquarters, was postponed to Friday, September 22, as many leaders are attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The KZN PEC has insisted that it will remain in office during its appeal against the judgment.
This was despite a warning from Luthuli House that they were jumping the gun and should rather take orders from the NEC on the next move.
Following a meeting with the ANC top six, the provincial leadership has said it will abide by the NEC decision.
However some NEC members told News24 that if the PEC remained in office it would affect the integrity of the nomination process ahead of the party’s December national elective conference.
In addition, it would heighten tensions in the already divided province and possibly spur more court action.
Disgruntled KZN members, who won the High Court case, want the PEC ousted.
At least two NEC members have suggested that as a compromise, a provincial task team that includes the current and the ousted leadership alongside NEC members should be put in place to oversee the road to the December conference.
They have also suggested that a fresh provincial elective conference should be held after the national conference.
The 2015 elective conference ousted Senzo Mchunu and replaced him with Sihle Zikalala as provincial chair.
“You can’t leave those who were ousted,” said an NEC member who did not want to be identified.
“They must learn to work together, because [the] common principle is to serve the movement.”
Another NEC member who is backing presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said that if a new task team is appointed it should be given strict conditions not to disband any region.
KZN is seen as the springboard for Dlamini-Zuma’s presidential campaign.
“The situation in KZN is sensitive, because people are looking at the whole thing – thinking about the balance of forces ahead of the December conference,” that NEC member said.
KwaZulu-Natal is the ANC’s biggest province in numbers, but the audit process that determines legitimate branches and delegates that will be represented at the elective conference is yet to be completed, with just three months to go.
Another NEC member said the committee should appeal the High Court ruling as it had approved the decision for an early provincial conference.
The High Court found that the decision for an early conference was not supported by one third of the branches as required by ANC constitution.
The NEC member backing Dlamini-Zuma said the party should not allow courts to “dictate how the ANC should be run”.
“The [party] constitution says that the NEC of the ANC is the highest decision making body between conferences and its decisions are binding on lower structures. So the NEC must go to court and argue that point as it was the NEC that said KZN can hold an early conference,” he said.
The Free State PEC was disbanded in 2012 after disgruntled members won their Constitutional Court challenge. A task team was appointed leading to a fresh provincial conference that saw provincial chair Ace Magashule re-elected.