Chandré Prince and Amukelani Chauke
TOP Eastern Cape ANC leaders were attacked and one was hospitalised yesterday when angry branch members stormed the party‘s provincial headquarters in King William‘s Town in what appeared to be only a small part of a massive nationwide revolt ripping through the party as local elections draw near.
The large crowd, which was protesting against the party‘s provincial executive committee (PEC), vandalised the offices and assaulted security guards at Calata House – the ANC‘s provincial headquarters.
Provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane was assaulted and chased down the street by about 200 people, who beat him with fists and sticks after breaking down the gate and demanding action over candidate lists they claimed had been rigged.
Mabuyane was apparently attacked when he was spotted outside the building after he had not made himself available to receive their petition. He was treated for unspecified “wounds” at a local hospital and about 30 police officers arrived and used stun grenades to disperse the angry crowd. One officer‘s nose was broken in the melee.
ANC provincial chairman Phumulo Masualle, who arrived soon after the skirmish, condemned the crowd‘s behaviour and insisted they were not ANC members.
“Members of the ANC will never act like this. The people responsible are either criminals or enemy agents,” he said.
Macdonald Matiwane, one of the disgruntled group‘s leaders, said they wanted the PEC to be disbanded.
“We want the government to take control of the province. It is chaotic and is falling to pieces,” he said. He dismissed claims they were not ANC members.
Meanwhile, about 500 members from three provinces – including the Eastern Cape – descended on the ANC‘s national headquarters, Luthuli House, Johannesburg, demanding that senior officials intervene in an escalating row over candidate lists.
Disaffected party members from Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga claim the lists of nominated councillors include friends and relatives of the powerful, and not those chosen by the branches.
This week, members from several regions in the three provinces arrived at Luthuli House in buses and taxis and called for “immediate action to address a volatile situation”. Late yesterday, other disgruntled members from the Western Cape were said to be on their way to Luthuli House.
The Eastern Cape – one of the ANC‘s strongholds – sent about 120 delegates on Monday, mainly from the Alfred Nzo region in Transkei.
Regional spokesman Bhedeshane Mceleli said their lists had been manipulated, and deserving candidates with clean track records excluded.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe at first refused to meet them, saying they did not have an appointment, but gave in after they threatened to start a violent protest. He promised he would visit the province soon.
“We want him to understand how volatile this situation is. People have warned they will have a revolt like in Egypt, only a bit more aggressive,” Mceleli said.
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said the party condemned the behaviour by the Eastern Cape members who attacked Mabuyane.
There were no reports of dissatisfaction or protests within the party in Nelson Mandela Bay, where the party list process was nearing completion, said ANC regional secretary-general Zandisile Qupe.
The region‘s party list was submitted to the provincial list committee at midday yesterday “for their consideration and confirmation before sending it to the national list committee. by February 25”.
Ward 23 councillor Thembekile Barnes said no members of the branch committee or steering committee had expressed any dissatisfaction with the candidates on the list, but “I know there are some branches out there who are unhappy”.
Last month, various local ANC members accused former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Nceba Faku of manipulating the nomination process of ward councillors before the crucial upcoming municipal elections.
The members claimed Faku, who is the ANC regional chairman, was interfering in the selection process and pressurising members to vote for his “cronies”.
Some of the accusations by members included one member saying he and others had been forced at a recent branch general meeting to vote in favour of nominees they had not chosen.
Others said the regional executive committee had forced them to vote for people they did not want to vote for. Qupe said at the time that it was strictly against ANC policy for the REC to intervene in the nomination process.
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Chandré Prince and Amukelani Chauke