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Durban – RADICAL Economic Transformation (RET) Forces chairperson and ANC member Nkosentsha Shezi, known for his staunch support of former President Jacob Zuma and suspended ANC secretary general Ace Magashule, has taken the ANC to court.
The matter, which is before the South Gauteng High Court, concerns Magashule’s suspension by the ruling party as part of its contentious step aside rule imposed on national and provincial leaders who are currently facing corruption charges and other serious crimes before the courts.
Magashule himself has taken the party to court to challenge his suspension under the step aside rule, with his matter set to be heard on 24 and 25 June.
Now Shezi has made his own application supporting Magashule’s against ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa who is the first respondent, ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte as the second respondent and the ANC as the third respondent.
In his court application, Shezi says that with the party’s regional conferences and the 2021 local government elections looming, the ANC cannot afford instability and disunity which will come with the uncertainty caused by the misapplication of the step aside rule and “its mere unlawfulness”.
“At the end of the NEC meeting held in March 2021, the first respondent announced that the proposed implementation of revised step aside rule would be taken to the branches of the ANC for consultation and endorsement. This was an essential step because it was the branches which had passed the original resolution concerning the notion of the step aside at the 2017 national conference.
“I and a number of members were therefore happy with the announcement. Unfortunately the announcement turned out not to have been true because my branch has never been so consulted or asked for approval. To my knowledge, no branch or region of the ANC has ever been consulted,” Shezi said.
He went on to say that the implementation of the revised resolution was therefore premature and unlawful, while adding that it was also undemocratic and in breach of the democratic ethos of the ANC, as reflected in the party’s constitution.
Shezi further stated that the ANC NEC had undertaken to make sure, before implementing the resolution, that it was consistent with the constitution of the republic of South Africa yet that undertaking was also never honoured.
“It was announced sometime in late 2020 that the ANC had sought and obtained five legal opinions, four of which agreed that the step aside rule was unconstitutional and invalid. To my knowledge the ANC did not subsequently take any steps, either to rectify the defects identified or to gainsay the overwhelming legal opinion of invalidity.
“To push on and implement the rule under such circumstances was morally, politically and, more importantly, legally wrong. It is in direct violation of members,” Shezi said.
He added that he fully supported the view that rule 25.70 of the ANC was unconstitutional, more especially in so far as it does afford the prospective suspendee any right to a hearing and it offends the principle of presumption of innocence, as enshrined in the both the ANC constitution and the South African constitution.
“Alternatively, I submit that the applicant, SG of the ANC Magashule, is the only person who was empowered to suspend any member of the ANC using rule 25.70 of the ANC constitution.
“The suspension of the applicant is an unlawful infringement of the democratic voice of the national conference which elected the applicant to run our organisation for the term of five years. We also elected to be led by a top six and not a top five, as is currently the case,” Shezi said.