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ConCourt rules FS delegates can vote

The 324 Free State delegates at the ANC's Mangaung conference can participate and vote.

ANC members sing during the opening of the party's 53rd national conference in Mangaung on 16 December 2012. Picture: ANC

JOHANNESBURG/ MANGAUNG - The 324 Free State delegates at the ANC's Mangaung conference can participate and vote.

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday set out its reasons for declaring the election of the Free State ANC leadership sent to Mangaung unlawful, but stopped short of saying they should not be allowed to participate in the national conference currently underway at the University of the Free State.

Last week, the top court found there were irregularities, including intimidation, in the process leading up to the province's elective conference.

It declared the provincial executive committee (PEC) unlawful and invalid.

The Constitutional Court said while the Free State conference was invalid, it did not affect the rights of any delegates who were lawfully elected to participate in the conference.

The court has placed the ball in the ANC's court, saying it was satisfied with the idea that the ruling party's national executive committee or Mangaung conference could regulate its own affairs.

But for Mpho Ramakatsa, a Free State ANC member and the first applicant in this case, this is a victory.

"Mangaung is illegally constituted and we have indicated this."

He says they now have a basis to deal with the Mangaung conference the way they did with the Free State elective conference.

Ramakatsa said if the ANC did not act on the judgment, they would go to the court again to have the Manguang conference declared invalid.

The ANC has said only PEC members attending the conference in other capacities could vote.

Yesterday, lawyers for the applicants said the ANC was in contempt of court by allowing Free State delegates to participate in the conference and wrote a letter threatening to have the gathering interdicted.

ANC LAUDS RULING

The ANC has welcomed the Johannesburg court's judgment.

The ANC's national executive committee (NEC) subsequently took a decision on Saturday to disband the PEC and appoint a task team to lead the province in the interim.

But those who brought the application were unhappy that the rest of the Free State delegation was allowed to attend and vote during the conference.

Senior ANC member Jeff Radebe said after having skimmed through the Constitutional Court's judgment, it was evident that the right decisions were taken.

"All along the line, we have always maintained the position that the provincial delegates of Free State have not been affected by the court order of the Constitutional Court."

He said election officials decided to use different colour-coded ballot papers for the Free State and North West delegates as a precautionary measure.

The North West provincial congress was also the subject of a legal dispute.

Members from that region wanted the results of their provincial nominations conference nullified, but their court application was dismissed by the Mafikeng High Court.

ANC leaders hastily called a press briefing today, a few minutes after the full judgment was released.

Officials also gave details about today's programme.

Click here for the full judgment.

For the Media Summary, click here.

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