Blood on the floor and walkouts at #ANCEC conference

Delegates with ANC T-shirts dripping blood, blood stains on the floor and ANC members carried out on stretchers in neck braces; all followed a violent confrontation between rival factions at the ANC’s Eastern Cape conference in East London on Saturday night.

At least eight people were injured after the adoption of credentials on Saturday night, as supporters of premier Phumulo Masualle walked out of the gathering at the international convention centre and were not present to indicate whether they accept or decline nominations for leadership.

Dozens of metal and plastic chairs were thrown as some delegates were carried out with neck braces after the bloody brawl which left blood on the floor. The fight broke out at the front of the hall around midnight, less than five metres away from ANC national executive committee (NEC) members sitting on stage.

951 of the 1706 delegates to conference remained in the venue after the fight, with the entire support base of Masualle appearing absent.

The walkout mirrored similar scenes in the Northern Cape earlier this year, where the faction supporting premier Sylvia Lucas walked out of the provincial conference after she declined nominations and lost the debate over the delegation numbers.

Despite this, the NEC deployees decided that conference should go ahead.

Outgoing provincial chairperson Oscar Mabuyane accepted his nomination for chairperson while the OR Tambo secretary Lulama Ngcukayithobi also accepted a nomination for provincial secretary.

Masualle was not in the hall to indicate if he accepted or declined his notation to remain chairperson, while provincial executive committee member Andile Lungisa was not present to indicate if he accepted a nomination for secretary.

The provincial leadership could not reach either of them by cellphone.

Half of the NEC members sent to oversee the conference were also not present during nominations. Voting then continued throughout Saturday night.

In the build up to the nominations process, supporters of Mabuyane and Masualle also clashed outside the conference venue and were dispersed by public order policing firing rubber bullets.

Lungisa had indicated that he planned to contest the legitimacy of the credentials during the debate and said a court bid to nullify the conference from continuing would only be considered afterwards.

The results of the officials election last night is expected to be announced on Sunday morning with ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa due to close the conference with an address in the afternoon.

Govan Whittles

Govan Whittles is a general news and political multimedia journalist at the Mail & Guardian. Born in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, he cut his teeth as a radio journalist at Primedia Broadcasting. He produced two documentaries and one short film for the Walter Sisulu University, and enjoys writing about grassroots issues, national politics, identity, heritage and hip-hop culture.

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