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The ANC centenery torch’s arrival in North West has revived tensions in a province that has become a hotbed for political factions and power struggles.
The rise in tensions takes place barely a week after Limpopo handed over the unity symbol to North West.
A group of ANC members gathered outside the Lutheran Church in Tlhabane township in Rustenburg at the weekend, but had to leave without setting their eyes on it.
The convoy carrying the flame was seen speeding off after torch co-ordinators and regional leaders were confronted by angry ANC Tlhabane cluster leaders, who protested that the flame should have gone to local Struggle heroes’ houses first.
The group insisted that the torch was not going to enter the church for a planned stopover until it had been to the local homes of their heroes, including that of slain Rustenburg councillor Moss Phakoe.
Former Rustenburg mayor and ANC provincial executive committee member Matthew Wolmarans and his former mayoral bodyguard, Enoch Matshaba, were imprisoned recently for Phakoe’s murder.
Wolmarans is an ally of ANC provincial chairman Supra Mahumapelo, leader of a faction that wants Jacob Zuma’s return to the helm of the ruling party in Mangaung in December.
Mahumapelo’s rival and provincial party secretary, Kabelo Mataboge, is leading an anti-Zuma faction.
North West ANC sources said Mahumapelo had been against the torch going to Phakoe’s house.
Party insiders believe Mahumapelo prevented the torch from going to homes in Tlhabane because he was not sure if Phakoe’s family would welcome him at their house because of his links to Wolmarans.
Phakoe’s children said they had been invited to the church but had not attended for reasons they would not divulge.
Upset Tlhabane ANC leaders blamed the regional leaders for inviting families of dead local political freedom fighters to a church, when it had been agreed they would have the torch brought to their homes.
Party cluster leader and North West Finance MEC Paul Sebego expressed the group’s disappointment.
“This region is seriously factionalised, and after having agreed on a programme, they did things behind our back and, to our surprise, decided that the torch will not go to anyone’s house in Tlhabane. We felt disrespected when the convoy just drove past,” Sebego said.
“These factional tendencies must stop. We’ll make sure we defend unity in the ANC.” - The Star