A visibly annoyed African National Congress (ANC) KwaZulu-Natal chair Sihle Zikalala hit out at some of his party comrades following the first day of a case to have the provincial conference where he was elected in 2015 nullified.
He had strong words for his predecessor in the party, Senzo Mchunu, national executive committee member Bheki Cele, as well as deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa when he addressed some of his supporters outside the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday.
ANC councillor Lawrence Dube and four other members brought an application to have the results of a provincial elective conference where Zikalala was elected chair declared null and void.
They claim the conference was not only held prematurely, but that it was riddled with irregularities and the results were rigged.
Submissions were made for the applicants on Wednesday by Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, who is usually seen in courts representing the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
"It's very, very disheartening that some of the comrades will go to the extent of inviting lawyers who always represent EFF to represent them today," Zikalala told his supporters on a stage set up across from the court.
The application will continue to be heard on Thursday.
Zikalala accused the ANC members who took the provincial executive committee to court of sharing information and colluding with those in the party who are "counter-revolutionary".
Zikalala told the crowd that only those who participated in the November 2015 provincial elective congress knew what happened there.
Zikalala was secretary at the time and Mchunu, whose supporters brought the case, was the chairperson.
"What's happening inside is well known. The PEC was there," he said.
He said that those who suggested calling the conference early had turned around and were now asking why a conference was called early.
Zikalala lashed out at the comrades for opting to settle the dispute through the courts.
"As ANC members we are saying the ANC didn't join us - we joined the ANC. When our things don't succeed [we] can't take the ANC to court," he said.
He blamed the current court matter on people who had received money from "businessmen".
"Instead of saying they were defeated they pretend to have been cheated at the conference," he said.
He also criticised Mchunu for visiting and speaking to structures in other provinces.
"Some people who aren't in charge in Limpopo, not in the PEC, not in the REC [Regional Executive Committee] [in those places]... are busy addressing structures in that province," said Zikalala.
Zikalala criticised Cele for recent remarks he made in Umlazi.
Cele said the ANC's NEC had let the people down, and he expressed support for those taking the 105-year-old movement to court, saying this should be done until the ANC learns to lead.
The ANC chair said he was seeking audience with Cele over the remarks, and even went as far as questioning why Cele had not resigned from the NEC yet.
"Bheki Cele wants to resign - he sees there is a weakness in the ANC NEC he must be the first to resign and say: 'I won't remain [a] part of that weakening thing,'" said Zikalala.
He also took the opportunity to praise ANC presidential hopeful Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is the preferred candidate by some in the province to replace her former spouse President Jacob Zuma as he steps down from his role in the party at the end of the year.
"People must not tell us what happened to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in December 2007 [at the Polokwane elective conference where she lost her bid to be deputy president] - she never left the ANC after being left out," he said.
"Some get chosen to [be] the secretary general but [because] they were not appointed to Cabinet they left the ANC," Zikalala said, taking a swipe at Ramaphosa who is also a front-runner for leader of the party and was a former secretary general.
The politician turned businessman turned politician again returned to the political at the Mangaung conference in 2012 after a long hiatus.
"The ANC had a secretary general when [Nelson] Mandela was going to be president - when he appointed Thabo Mbeki as his deputy other comrades continued - the SG packed his bags and went to the private sector," said Zikalala.
"If Cele wants to know where Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma went, she didn't leave the ANC, she remained a member," said Zikalala.