Key speakers Ronald Lamola and Tokyo Sexwale failed to pitch to an ANC Youth League lecture that saw opposing factions exchange threats of violence.
Threats of violence were exchanged among members of the ANC who gathered at the Ekangala Community Hall, in Bronkhorstspruit east of Pretoria on Saturday.
Community members wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the faces of different ANC leaders streamed to the hall for a scheduled ANC Youth League's economic freedom lecture.
As hours went on, without any leader taking to the podium, a member of the Umkonto weSizwe veterans, Obbey Mabena addressed the divided crowd.
"We are all members of the ANC here and we need to treat each other with respect. This division is not healthy for the party," he said to applause from the factions.
Most of the people wore white, red and yellow t-shirts bearing the face of President Jacob Zuma. Some of the t-shirts were written: "GP for JZ".
Another section of the crowd wore t-shirts with faces of Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula.
Motlanthe is the Youth League's choice for the position of ANC president and ANC national executive committee member Tokyo Sexwale or ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa for deputy president.
Its candidate for ANC secretary general is Mbalula, who is a former Youth League leader.
The community was expecting ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola, accompanied by Sexwale to address them at the event.
After hours spent singing, dancing and waiting in the large hall, a man who said he worked in Lamola's office told the crowd to disperse.
He said both Lamola and Sexwale would not attend the event due to other commitments.
Divisions between camps
As the factions sang and danced outside the large hall, some members picked up heavy pieces of wood, threatening members of rival groups.
Some irate, plank wielding members of the factions interrupted whilst SABC journalists were interviewing Mabena.
Scores of men danced, singing: "Showerman warisogodisa (is troubling us)" whilst a another faction nearby sang Zuma's signature tune, "Umshini wami".
Mabena said he had volunteered to address the crowd, knowing that "troublesome elements were hijacking events".
"The subject of economic freedom is pertinent in our society. I am worried because at these events nothing [of that subject] is discussed, except advocating the divisions between camps of Zuma and Motlanthe," he said.
"Unfortunately, what the ANC stands for has been hijacked by people who do not care about the party. They are interested in what they can take out of having a powerful position," said Mabena.
He said with the deep entrenched divisions, the ANC did not need an elective conference but "a crisis resolution summit".
As the crowds dispersed, a police van arrived at the venue.
Some people continued to sing songs supporting their preferred candidates at the elective conference scheduled for Mangaung in December. – Sapa.