/ 9 June 2021

Intimidation claims threaten ANC Far North regional conference

Anc Siyanqoba Final Election Rally At Ellis Park Stadium Photo Delwyn Verasamy
Most South Africans agree that the country is in a mess and that the ANC must go if there is to be any chance of a second building of a new South Africa.

ANC branches in the party’s Far North region in KwaZulu-Natal want its elective conference — scheduled for the end of the month — to be postponed over alleged irregularities during the branch general meetings (BGMs) convened to elect conference delegates.

They have written to the party’s national leadership twice, asking them to intervene over alleged intimidation at the BGMs and claiming armed security guards are being used to prevent ANC members in good standing from participating.

On 5 June members of the ward 5 branch at Jozini laid charges of intimidation against the branch leadership and a member of the regional executive committee, after shots were allegedly fired by security guards, who prevented them from attending the BGM.

They claim that, after the police were called, the meeting was halted, but was reconvened without them later in the day and a new branch leadership was elected.

The region, which includes Jozini, Pongola and Mkuze, backed President Cyril Ramaphosa in the run up to the 2017 elective conference, but his supporters now claim they are being targeted in a bid to swing the region in favour of the radical economic transformation (RET) faction.

The sitting chairperson, Bethuel Mthethwa, is facing a challenge for the leadership of the region from the current secretary, Siphile Mdaka, who is aligned with the RET faction.

Sibusiso Mbuyazi, who was a delegate representing the region — which covers the Umkhanyakude district municipality — at Nasrec, said they had been the target of a campaign to exclude them from the BGMs.

“Things are bad here. They want to finish everybody who was CR [Cyril Ramphosa] before Nasrec so that the region is RET when we go into the provincial conference. They are using bodyguards to make sure we are kept out,” Mbuyazi said.

“This is a real problem. If the NEC [national executive committee] doesn’t address this, we are going to lose the elections here on 27 October.”

Nozipho Mngomezulu, a member of the ward 5 branch, said she was among those who had been barred from attending the BGM despite being members in good standing.

“We were prevented from participating in the BGM, but people from other branches, who were brought in from outside, were allowed to participate. When we tried to get inside and view the membership system to check the status of each person, they called security guards,” Mngomezulu said.

“Guys with guns approached us and fired shots. We called the police and opened a case. We then heard that the meeting continued in another hall and that they elected a leadership.”

Mngomezulu said they had sent emails to the ANC regional, provincial and national leadership about the incident, but had not received any response.

The 5  incident follows a similar one in Jozini’s ward 6 on 24 April, during which members were prevented from participating in the BGM.

Mlungisi Myeni, a member of the branch, told the M&G that while they had been holding the meeting, a group of about 60 members walked out and held a parallel meeting in another venue.

“When the secretary went to deliver the [election] packs to the region, he was told that the region had already recognised the other group,” he said.

Last month, members of the branch staged a protest march to the regional office over the situation and wrote to the NEC and provincial executive committee asking them to intervene.

However, no intervention has been forthcoming.

Myeni said they would be meeting lawyers over the weekend to look at preventing the regional conference from going ahead if the situation is not addressed by then.

“We are trying all means to get national to intervene. So far, we are being told to resolve the issues in the province, but the provincial leadership is not addressing this thing,” Myeni said. 

“We have legitimate issues, but we are being told to go and unite behind the leadership.”

ANC provincial spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said the issues raised during the march in May had been addressed by the province.

Ntombela referred the M&G to Mdaka for further comment.

Mdaka and ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe had not responded to calls by the time of writing.