ANC MP and presidential candidate Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has distanced herself from reports linking her and her supporters to the violence that took place in East London over the weekend at the party’s eighth’s provincial elective conference.
Disruptions started with a storming of the Orient Theatre on Friday, tear gas on Saturday and chair throwing in the early hours of Sunday. A number of delegates backing Phumulo Masualle to retain the provincial chairmanship stormed out of the conference after alleging that eventual victor Oscar Mabuyane’s supporters were the ones throwing chairs at them. Masualle is a Dlamini-Zuma backer.
Cyril Ramaphosa supporter Mabuyane, as widely expected, was voted in as the new chairperson of the ANC’s Eastern Cape provincial executive committee along with Mlungisi Mvoko (Deputy Chair), Lulama Ngcukaitobi (Secretary), Helen Suzman-Sauls (Deputy Secretary) and Mlungisi Mvoko (Treasurer) in a clean sweep for Ramaphosa.
The deputy president criticised the violence on Sunday in a speech.
In a joint statement titled “Not in My Name” released with the ANC Women’s League late on Monday, Dlamini-Zuma did the same, saying they had “noted with dismay the current trend in which branch, regional and provincial meetings have been disrupted”.
“We have the responsibility to ensure that we maintain outmost discipline in our conduct,” Dlamini Zuma was quoted as saying.
They said the “incidences” were against the “democratic culture of the ANC”, and that “nobody should claim ill-disciplined [sic] in her name, as she has maintained discipline throughout her political career”.
Dlamini-Zuma called for tolerance of divergent views and that the unity and reputation of the ANC should be built.
She also called for members to use internal dispute resolution mechanisms before resorting to the courts, as had happened on Sunday when Masualle’s supporters tried to interdict the conference from continuing. That application was struck from the roll on Monday morning, however.
The provincial conference descended into chaos on Saturday night and at least eight delegates were injured when ANC members turned on each other over disagreements about the adoption of credentials for delegates.
A number of delegates stormed out of the conference venue after midnight, alleging that they were being assaulted with chairs and “other dangerous objects” by Mabuyane’s supporters.
One delegate was seriously injured when he was severely beaten in the face with a microphone, according to eyewitnesses. He was among several injured people transported to hospital by ambulance.
ANC provincial spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane said some delegates had raised issues regarding the presence of certain branches at the conference without having held proper branch general meetings.
“There were calls to vote for [the] adoption of credentials, but certain members would not accept that; they started singing. After two to three hours of consultation chairs started to fly, some delegates started to panic and ran to the front,” Qoboshiyane said.
Members of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) deployed at the conference were supposed to guide the way forward, he said.
Some delegates blamed provincial executive member Andile Lungisa and Amathole regional secretary Teris Ntutu for the disruptions. A delegate who declined to be named said Lungisa and Ntutu had “disputed everything, trying to disqualify every delegate from their regions if they appear to be supporting Mabuyane. Both of them were complaining about delegates that were disqualified”.
Earlier on Saturday, Ntutu alleged some branches from his region had not convened branch general meetings and had “smuggled” members to the conference. About 14 delegates were later disqualified but 10 of them did not return the tags allowing delegates inside the venue, he said.
When matters eventually calmed down, a large number of delegates returned to the conference venue while others supporting Masualle held their own gatherings outside the venue. The conference resumed and finally adopted the credentials and nominations for the top five leadership positions.
ANC national spokesman and NEC member Zizi Kodwa said about 80 percent of delegates were inside the venue. Those absent included a number of delegates who failed to arrive at all for the conference.
It is highly anticipated that the Masualle faction will bring a court challenge about the outcome of the provincial conference.
– Additional reporting by ANA