JOHANNESBURG - The African National Congress (ANC) leadership in the Free State leadership may find itself out of office soon.
A fresh court application's been lodged with the high court in Bloemfontein seeking to interdict the provincial leadership from exercising authority over the organisation.
Last week, the ANC leadership in the Free State settled a court challenge by agreeing to stage the long-delayed provincial elective conference in the first week of December.
But, as Ace Magashule and his leadership cohort prepare to fulfil that undertaking, they're facing yet another legal hurdle.
A pair from Bloemfontein now want the high court to declare that Magashule and company have no authority to act as a provincial executive committee, saying their four-year mandate expired in May.
The applicants are arguing that the recent court settlement ordering the staging of the conference in December is null and void.
Provincial leaders say Luthuli house should shoulder the blame for its delayed membership audit processes.
According to William Bulwane, ANC Free State Secretary, "It was not our making that we didn't go to conference at the said given time, because we have proof that we've done everything in our power, talked to the Secretary General, wrote letters to the Secretary General that gave us time, saying we want to go to conference, but we can't go, please prioritise us on the audit issues. So we've done everything in our power."
The party is planning to oppose the latest application, but, the back and forth legal challenges merely highlight the magnitude of the problems plaguing the ANC in the province.
On the ground, tensions are rising as Magashule's deputy, Thabo Manyoni gears himself up for the provincial top post.
Manyoni says: "We need an ANC that is clean, an ANC that we all can be proud of. Not the ANC that is being rubbished by corruption, by thieves and so forth. We need an ANC that not only South Africans can be proud of, but the whole world can be proud of."
But not everyone wants Manyoni to take over.
The Youth League in the Free State believes he should be charged for ill-discipline.
According to Makalo Mohale, ANC Youth League Free State Chairperson "He can't now (say) that he wants to become the chair, then start to go out of the collective and portray himself as the messiah, as the only one who is holier than the rest. That is un-ANC. If comrade Thabo used to see something wrong in the ANC, he knew what he was supposed to do. He's sitting in the meeting of the PEC, he's an official, he's sitting in the meeting of the PWC. This is where you're supposed as a leader to take responsibility to root out whatever wrongs that he claims is there."
Meanwhile, in a separate court process - ANC member Lefa Mifi, who'd given the party's national executive committee until last Sunday to disband the Free State provincial leadership, now looks set to file his court papers on Friday.