Free State branches have threatened to go to court again if necessary, this time to nullify the provincial general council (PGC) that nominated ANC presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to replace President Jacob Zuma.
News24 has seen at least two letters addressed to ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, labelling the "surprise" PGC illegal and claiming that processes leading to the council held in Parys on Tuesday were flawed.
They have also questioned the timing of the PGC, which was held while the verification process of branch general meetings (BGMs), which nominated leaders, was still under way.
"It was a sham," deputy chair of the province, Thabo Manyoni, told News24. However, he said he was not aware that branches had written to Luthuli House.
"There are branches still having reruns in terms of BGMs, how do we go there and say the ANC in the Free State has nominated so and so," he said.
A branch member from the Lejweleputswa region, Shima Mohohlo, said there were unresolved disputes from some branch meetings, with some reruns expected on Thursday.
Manipulating the process
He accused the longstanding Free State chair, Ace Magashule, of manipulating the process ahead of the elective conference that was due to get under way on Friday until a court judgment stopped it.
The Bloemfontein High Court ruled on Wednesday that the elective conference could not go ahead until at least 28 branch general meetings were rerun according to the ANC's constitution. It found that the meetings in the branches, leading to the elective conference were irregular, unlawful, unconstitutional and/or in breach of the ANC's constitution.
"The provincial conference of the ANC Free State, scheduled for December 1 to 3, 2017 will be a nullity and is not to be held until the aforesaid meetings have been held in a lawful manner and in accordance to the constitution of the ANC," the judgment read.
The initial plan was for the provincial elective conference and the PGC to be held simultaneously.
However, members were taken aback when the PGC was moved to Tuesday.
"We believe that he [Magashule] knew that the provincial elective conference is illegal and has no political legitimacy and his suspicion was that it would not sit. So, that is why he forced the PGC before the verification process is completed.
"We will not allow it. We will contest it in the streets, in the organisation with the secretary general and, even if it means going to court, we will contest manipulative processes pursued by Ace Magashule," Mohohlo said.
Other branch members have also disputed the figures released on Tuesday.
Magashule's preferred presidential candidate Dlamini-Zuma got 209 nominations, winning against her rival Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa who only received 44.
Calling for a fair process
Manyoni appealed for a fair process, that did not disregard the preferences of other branches whatever the outcomes.
"I just want a fair process where all branches have gone through the right BGM processes without intimidation, then we can say this is what the Free State is thinking of and has nominated," he said.
Manyoni, who did not attend the PGC, said he was surprised that even he was only informed via SMS that the council was now going ahead the day before.
However, the ANC in the province has defended their decision to go ahead with the PGC.
Spokesperson Thabo Meeko said only ten branches were still due to hold reruns, adding that their nomination meetings and the outcomes would have no "material impact on the outcome of the PGC."
Numbers will be issued later
"Our understanding is similar to other provinces, that there is nothing wrong with us proceeding with PGC's even though there are other branches that are outstanding. Those will simply be added and the numbers will simply be issued later," Meeko said.
He dismissed claims that there was an attempt to manipulate the outcome of the PGC, saying the process was conducted under the leadership of the ANC at national and an independent election agency. Deputy secretary general of the ANC Jessie Duarte spoke at the conference."We only read out the outcomes of branch general meetings, there were no additions nor subtractions. In our view it went very well, it was peaceful ... there were no revolts, no one objecting ... mood was good and jovial," he said.
Meeko again lamented branch members taking the ANC to court over "internal disputes", saying they were hauled to the courts at least four times ahead of the provincial elective conference and December national conference.
"That is why as province we are saying the ANC has to revisit the matter. Remember, it is the ANC's understanding that the court must be final arbiter in resolutions of issues in the ANC. First, the people must exhaust internal mechanisms and they are not doing that."
Meeko said the court challenges were only an attempt to influence final outcomes of elective conferences.