Newly-elected ANC Gauteng chairperson David Makhura says the ANC has nonprejudicial, transparent and fair internal processes, procedures and a constitution that should dissuade party members from approaching the courts to resolve party issues.
Makhura, also the Gauteng premier, said the party had strengthened its ability to resolve disputes within the organisation by establishing a national dispute resolution committee headed by deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte following the ANC 53rd national conference.
“The resolution of the national conference to establish a national dispute resolution committee was profound,” Makhura said.
The Gauteng premier said during the provincial conferences at the weekend – one in KwaZulu-Natal and another in the country’s economic hub – resolution committees were set up to handle appeals, but he explained that the committee headed by Duarte was the topmost structure for dealing with such matters.
“It’s a big plus for the ANC, and the national dispute resolution committee goes everywhere when all the other disputes have not been resolved to the satisfaction of the member or the branch,” Makhura said.
The Gauteng chair added that following the national conference last December, the party had bolstered its ability to deal with court cases by establishing legal support structures at its Luthuli House headquarters.
“The emphasis has been that the ANC must itself learn to follow its own constitution and its own procedures,” Makhura said.
He said in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Limpopo, the party had invested a great deal of time to ensure that party procedures were followed in accordance with its constitution.
“Because when we have done that then no member can come and say that I’m prejudiced by people who are not following organisational processes. So doing that is important because then when a member has followed through all the disputes processes and the appeals and we have followed our own procedures, we are confident [we will win the court cases],” Makhura said.
He cited the party’s court victories as examples, including victories in Limpopo during the provincial conference there, two victories in Gauteng and the failed last-minute court bid to halt the KZN conference last week.
Makhura said these victories were proof that the party’s processes were fair and consistent with the party’s rules and constitution and did not prejudice the constitutional rights of party members.
“Because we invest a lot of time and give our members an opportunity [to follow] our own processes and to satisfy ourselves that they have a fair hearing and the key issues have been attended to, we discourage those who go to court. But if they go to court, we say to them, we will go to court to defend the organisation’s internal processes, and we have nothing to hide,” the provincial chair said.
He said the ANC was deeply concerned by the fact that members who took the party to court and lost ended up incurring high legal costs, and was concerned by the fact that these members were egged on by the party’s political enemies.
“Don’t be part of something that seeks to disrupt the political life of the ANC,” Makhura said.
The Gauteng premier said some of these members who took the party to courts usually did not have enough money for legal costs and that benefactors ended up not following through on promises to fund their court bids.
He said the party respected the courts and its call for members to refrain from taking it to courts should not be seen as the organisation’s fear of courts because the party was resilient and strong.
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal said ahead of its conference that the party’s national dispute resolution committee had “adequately addressed” grievances that led to the organisation’s attempt at running its provincial conference last month being successfully interdicted by unhappy members.