ANC Limpopo ignores court order to reinstate Ponani Makhubele as NCOP member

Lawyers representing an ANC member are filing a case of contempt of court against the party after it failed to abide by a court order.

After losing an appeal in a ruling that the party reinstate Ponani Makhubele to its list of those heading to the national council of provinces (NCOP), the ANC has still not paid any costs on her legal fees or offered her a position in the NCOP, as ordered by the Johannesburg High Court.

“We are busy with the papers and we should be filing no later than next week,” said Sithenjwa Dladla of Matengu Attorneys.

After the ruling was made last month, Makhubele and her lawyers wrote a letter to the ANC requesting that they respond within 48 hours. However, there has been no response from the party so far.

“We demand implementation of the settlement agreement made in the order of court by no later than close of business on July 26 2019, failing which our instructions to bring, inter alia, an application in the contempt of the court order,” Dladla said in a letter addressed to lawyers representing the ANC.

While Makhubele has put up a brave face throughout the battle, it has been emotionally and financially taxing.

The former councillor moved from her home after filing the first court papers against the ruling party, fearing that her life might be in danger.

“I’d usually get calls at midnight from private numbers. I got worried and scared knowing we had two [SA Municipal Workers’ Union] leaders gunned down earlier this year, and I moved,” she told City Press.

“At first I took it a bit lightly, but after the affidavit of the provincial secretary [Soviet Lekganyane] I realised that I was in danger as the lies he spoke tell that he is a man willing to do anything to ensure that I’m never deployed. Since then I’m not comfortable.”

In the affidavit filed by Lekganyane to the court, he stated that Makhubele was removed from the NCOP list because she did not qualify to hold the position.

“Makhubele’s experience as a public representative is limited to serving as a part-time councillor in the Mopani District Municipality. Makhubele does not have the educational qualifications or skills that warrant her being number 14 on the regional-to-national list,” wrote Lekganyane.

However, Makhubele explained that the reasoning was not valid as she had on numerous occasions worked closely with Lekganyane at regional and provincial level.

“What is painful is that I led with Soviet in the provincial executive committee (PEC) of the Young Communist League (YCL) of Limpopo, elected together during the first provincial congress of the YCL in 2005. I was the only one from the Mopani region in that PEC.”

Her CV includes serving as a member of the ANC Giyani subregion between 2011 and 2013 and being elected into the PEC of the ANC Youth League in Limpopo, elected during the provincial congress that took place in 2011.

She has accused Lekganyane of misleading the NEC about the extent of her experience within the party.

In response, Lekganyane said: “The ANC has many comrades who have not made it on to the list. Some have not returned to their previous deployments, either as councillors, MPs or MPLs. But all of them have accepted organisational processes.”

Makhubele was initially on the list of members to be deployed by Limpopo province to the National Assembly during the party provincial list conference in December last year.

In March she signed the acceptance letter from the Electoral Commission of SA, but later found out that her name had been removed from the list. She then took the governing party to court to have her name reinstated.

She received a letter of settlement from the ANC, declaring that she would be the part’s first priority on the list of members to be deployed to the NCOP. Makhubele accepted the offer and withdrew her case.

“Upon a vacancy arising in the NCOP, arising from the four Limpopo permanent delegates to the NCOP, the member would automatically be entitled to occupy such vacancy, subject to the constitutional requirements for a candidate to assume such position,” ANC lawyers said in an email addressed to Makhubele.

However, the ANC did not honour this agreement and this led to her going back to court to apply for the settlement to be made an order. She won the case but was not sworn in to the NCOP. Pending the ANC’s appeal hearing, a meeting was held between Makhubele, her lawyers as well as the ANC’s legal representatives, where she was offered a PR counsellor job, which she rejected.

In the interim, the ANC said she would be a candidate for deployment to a position in foreign affairs or foreign missions. Makhubele says she has not been contacted regarding the temporary deployment.

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