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A journalist’s suggestion that people at the forefront of violent protests were “following the example” of what senior ANC leaders had been taught sparked shock and anger at the ANC’s policy conference yesterday.
The question came during a briefing by members of the ANC’s national executive committee.
Ayanda Dlodlo confirmed that delegates had agreed disciplinary action be taken against ANC members found to be involved in destroying property during the protests that have been flaring across the country. If someone was unhappy their municipality had no water, this was no reason to burn down a clinic, she said.
Peaceful protest action was “not an issue” but when property was destroyed “it becomes a serious problem for the ANC”. That’s when a Beeld journalist asked whether protesters weren’t just following the example set during the apartheid years.
“I am a little shocked,” said NEC member Lynne Brown. “If I wanted to respond in a tit-for-tat way, I would say is it true that you lot who voted for the former government pre-1994, who murdered and tortured and maimed our people, who built communities for our people that we now have to reconstruct, because they were poor and black. I don’t think it takes us anywhere. You and I and all parties – we live in this country, so whether you like it or not, (despite) our separate histories, we are entangled with each other and have got to make it work.
“So I am a little shocked, but I suppose that’s what we fought for – so that we can have a society where such things can be said.”
uMkhonto weSizwe veteran Dlodlo said that in the past “violence begat violence. Now it cannot be right that you’re here today and say that the ANC taught us to destroy what has been built for our people.”
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu suggested the journalist apologise. “Many of us who sit here, we sit with scars. We are trying very hard to forgive, because we never forget there are some of our family and friends who died in the struggle against apartheid. For somebody to vulgarise our fight against apartheid domination in this manner – it simply does not go down well.”