Two people were stabbed and injured on Saturday as tension before this year’s ANC Tshwane region’s elective conference took a violent turn.
Hundreds of disgruntled party members stormed into a meeting held at the Sammy Marks council chambers, attended by the party’s Gauteng chairman, Paul Mashatile, and other senior provincial and regional leaders, including representatives of the ANC Youth League and Women’s League.
One of the two people stabbed was a member of the VIP protection unit of city mayor and regional chairman Kgosientso Ramokgopa. Several others suffered minor injuries during the scuffle that ensued.
The disgruntled members said they were unhappy with the preparations for the regional conference, particularly the verification and audit of members.
They claimed their names were removed from the attendance list on Ramokgopa’s orders. The members went to the meeting uninvited to voice their displeasure.
Removal of their names, they alleged, was done purposefully to prevent them from participating in the conference, at which they intended opposing the re-election of the current leadership.
The group told the Pretoria News the meeting was disguised as an ANC caucus get-together, hence it was held in the council chambers.
They accused Ramokgopa of using police and a gang with links to a member of the mayoral committee - whose name has been withheld - as his personal shield against those opposing him.
However, Ramokgopa came out guns blazing, saying the ANC in Tshwane had no room for ill-discipline. He was joined by Lesego Makhubela of the ANC Youth League in the region in denouncing the violence at the meeting.
Makhubela appealed to the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) to investigate the claims by the disgruntled members.
Ramokgopa said all party members had procedures and processes to follow in verifying their membership.
He said he respected this process of preparing for the regional conference as well as the verification and audit of membership.
“The assault on a member of the VIP protection unit demonstrated that the purported disgruntled members were hell-bent on disrupting the meeting.
“All members of the ANC have a right to contest all positions and I look forward to the re-election of a team to lead the region to a successful 2016 election.”
Regional secretary Paul Mojapelo said the meeting was convened on the instruction of the ANC to engage with councillors on service delivery improvements and other matters. Similar meetings have taken place in other regions.
Mojapelo said the meeting was not the right platform to discuss membership issues as those were handled by the branches.
He said Ramokgopa had nothing to do with membership.
“The secretaries of the branches are happy with the audit and membership verification in preparation for the conference and have signed a declaration to that effect.
“That process opened three months ago and closed last Monday. This means no new members can be added to the list for the upcoming conference.”
The current regional leadership term ends in October, and the ANC has yet to announce the details of the elective conference.
Last month, sources revealed regional deputy chairman Mapiti Matsena intended standing for chairmanship against Ramokgopa.
He vehemently denied the allegations, saying he was in fact leading a campaign for the mayor’s re-election.