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Another Legal Setback for Man Challenging South Africa's ANC Conference

In South Africa, it seems the way is cleared for the national conference of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to take place this Sunday, now that the man challenging the conference in court has suffered yet another legal setback. South African President Thabo Mbeki and party deputy president Jacob Zuma are both fiercely contesting the ANC leadership.

ANC member Votani Majola had asked the court to postpone the conference for six months in other to what he called level the playing field. He said there was a climate of intimidation and harassment within the ANC.

But the South African Supreme Court of Appeals Wednesday upheld a previous court ruling rejecting his request. In addition, Majola has been suspended from the party by a local ANC branch.

From Johannesburg, Majola told VOA he’s consulting with his clients before making his next move.

“The judgment is that our case was dismissed. In other words, the Supreme Court of Appeal says that we have lost our case. But what is happening now, I am still consulting with my clients. These are a group of people that are scattered all around the country,” he said.

Majola said he does not recognize his suspension from the ANC by the Sandton 103 local branch of the party.

“I received the letter that purports to suspend me, but I have already responded to that this morning, and I told them that that suspension is invalid, and that I am still a 150 percent member of the ANC Sandton Branch. And I advised them that they must actually withdraw that purported suspension within five days,” Mojola said.

He said he filed the case to stop what he called the climate of intimidation and harassment within the ANC.

“I filed the case because as we are going to the conference there are two things that have happened. A lot of members of the ANC, especially in the rural areas have been intimidated and harassed by certain individuals as a result of which these people were not given the chance to participate in the activities in terms attending branch meetings so that they can elect delegates and also stand a chance to be elected. And obviously they could not be given a chance to nominate the delegates that are supposed to sit in the national executive committee of the ANC. So basically there was suppression of free political activities,” he said.

Majola emphasized that what he called his purported suspension was not authorized by the national ANC.

“It is just some few criminal elements that joined the African National Congress because they want to advance their own selfish economic agenda. So to solve the problem as of now rather quickly go to court so that if we will win then we postpone the election so that we can also be given a chance,” Majola said.

In its letter suspending Majola, the local ANC Branch of Sandton said Majola’s court action brought the ANC in disrepute because he failed to utilize the internal ANC mechanism to resolve disputes.

But Majola said the local branch’s statement is based on the lack of understanding of the ANC structures.

“The ANC has got its constitution and the we have got the constitution of South Africa. Now in this case, the ANC constitution does not have the power to deal with criminal activities. In other words, if there are criminal violations of the law, in this case I am talking intimidation, harassment, and violence, the ANC constitution does not have the jurisdiction and competence to deal with those things. It is the court of the law that has got the competence to deal with those things. That is why now to deal with those issues you have to go to the court of the law,” Majola said.