High-level officials of the African National Congress (ANC) in KwaZulu-Natal say they are not afraid of losing an appeal against a High Court decision granted to a so-called "rebel" group challenging their leadership.
"If we lose, we will petition the Supreme Court of Appeal. In fact, we are happy to launch that appeal. It will see the court processes moving faster," provincial secretary Super Zuma said on Wednesday at a press briefing on an ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) meeting that was held over the weekend.
Aggrieved KwaZulu-Natal ANC members who legally challenged the results of the party's 2015 provincial conference and won will oppose the PEC's appeal. ANC member Lawrence Dube and four others brought the court case against the ANC in May 2016. The ANC members challenged the results of the conference that saw incumbent chairperson Sihle Zikalala replacing former premier Senzo Mchunu.
The case will be heard in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday.
On Wednesday, Zuma said that the provincial leadership was satisfied with "the level of preparation by the ANC's provincial and national legal teams assigned to defend the African National Congress".
Open to mediation
He said the decision of the party's national leadership to not only support the PEC's appeal, but join it, made the case one "between the ANC as an organisation versus others".
He went on to say that the sitting leadership was still open to mediation with the rebel group.
"The PEC views this case as one of the many challenges facing the ANC which, while difficult, are not impossible to resolve. The PEC remains firmly committed to the ongoing internal discussion on unity and cohesion."
Zuma said that the PEC was "unanimous on its view that unity remains the rock upon which the ANC was founded and nothing should deter us from forever working for its attainment".
Zuma said he would not comment on who among the ANC presidential hopefuls was leading branch nominations.
"I cannot say who is leading and who is not leading. It is the PGC (provincial general council) that will give you numbers."
Ramaphosa announcement a 'betrayal'
He said 60% of the branch general meetings (BGMs) that had been held in the province had been successful.
"There were a number of BGMs that occurred during the weekend. Now we are sitting at 30 appeals. The national leadership has sent us six as well. We are attending to those concerns."
During the press briefing Zuma said the PEC had been dismayed by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's public announcement of his "winning team".
"What is deeply offensive and unexpected from the highest office of our movement is to openly, unashamedly and blatantly betray the national general council's decision on the need to overcome slate politics in choosing leadership."
He said liberal politics were at play and placed the "pursuit of individual ambitions above the overall interests of the African National Congress".
"It is an expression of a determined and desperate faction seeking to realise its sectarian objectives regardless of the price to the organisation itself."
Zuma added: "It is our considered view that this is an extremely dangerous behaviour which must be combated by the movement as a whole, irrespective of leadership preferences towards the conference."