Violence delays ANC's eThekwini elective conference

Although the official line is that the conference was postponed for "logistical reasons", the chaotic scenes at ANC branch meetings are hard to ignore. (Gallo)

Although the official line is that the conference was postponed for "logistical reasons", the chaotic scenes at ANC branch meetings are hard to ignore. (Gallo)

The powerful ANC eThekwini region has postponed its elective conference in a bid to restore order following reports of violence at branch meetings and rising tensions. 

The decision was taken at a marathon meeting on Monday attended by the region’s top brass. The regional conference was to have been held from Friday to Sunday this week, but is now expected to take place from December 19 to 21. 

Although the official line is that the conference was postponed for “logistical reasons”, the chaotic scenes at branch meetings in areas such as KwaXimba, west of Durban, are hard to ignore. Two people were reportedly wounded during an altercation at the meeting when shots were fired, which resulted in the meeting being abandoned. 

An insider claimed there were many incidents of “manipulation” and physical assault. 

‘Comrade turning on comrade’
Earlier this week, political analyst Protas Madlala said the conference had all the signs of “comrade turning on comrade”.
  

ANC eThekwini regional secretary Bheki Ntshangase said: “We want a dignified conference of high standards.”  He would not confirm whether or not violence and threats to disrupt the elective conference were behind it being delayed.

“It was just a shift in the date because of logistical reasons. There are many factors we are dealing with,” Ntshangase said, adding that “certain exercises” had to be done before it took place.

The eThekwini mayor, James Nxumalo, and the ANC regional treasurer, Zandile Gumede, are the top contenders for the position of regional chairperson. 

Whoever is victorious will have final say over the municipal budget, which will be more than R34-billion.

No bad blood
One delegate to the eThekwini conference said the elective conference was delayed so that factions could buy time to rally support. 

Ntshangase said there was no bad blood over the leadership contest.

He said elections were important but not the only issue. “We will review and look back at the last conference and the decisions we took there to see how we implemented it. We will look at internal things, like membership targets, but also how we are performing as a municipality.”

He said an important issue would be the 2016 local government elections.

“We will have to ensure that our municipality is implementing at a level where we are satisfied with service delivery.”

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