League split turns ugly
OPPOSITION to Julius Malema’s leadership of the ANC Youth League entered top gear and turned ugly yesterday after dozens of league members tried to storm a meeting of the league’s leadership in Durban.
A stampede nearly ensued after private security personnel used tear gas to disperse the anti-Malema supporters who were trying to storm the meeting, which was being held at the ANC’s regional offices on the 21st floor of the Commercial City building in central Durban.
Angry members later alleged that the security personnel had been acting on instructions from pro-Malema youth league leaders in eThekwini but this was denied by regional secretary, Vukani Ndlovu, a Malema loyalist.
The meeting, which was abandoned because of the chaos, had been convened by the league’s national executive committee to explain to the KwaZulu-Natal branch its decision to disband the provincial leadership structure.
League deputy secretary-general, Kenetswe Mosenogi, and two other national executive committee members were unable to address the meeting and left later under heavy guard.
There was heavy security in the building before the meeting because there were fears that it might be disrupted.
Ordinary league members had become agitated after being told they would not be allowed into the meeting, with only branch secretaries and chairmen permitted.
They said they believed this had been a ploy to keep anti-Malema supporters away from the meeting.
“We did not see any logic in them not allowing us, as legitimate members of the youth league, into the meeting when they have already communicated the meeting to the media. It is our right as members to be addressed on these matters,” said one member, who did not want to be named.
But Ndlovu said the meeting was strictly for branch secretaries and chairmen, adding that those who had tried to storm the meeting had been bused to the venue by the disbanded provincial executive committee to disrupt it.
The provincial executive committee was disbanded at the weekend, just a few days after it was stripped of its powers. The national executive committee said that the decision had been taken to ensure stability in the league’s KZN structures.
The KZN leaders had become a thorn in the flesh for Malema’s leadership. They had irked the leadership when they pronounced that they would support Jacob Zuma’s re-election as ANC president at the party’s national conference in Mangaung next year.
The province also broke ranks with the national executive committee when it said it would not support a march to the Union Buildings. The march, to press for the nationalisation of mines, was announced by the league last month.
The split is evident in the eThekwini region, where Ndlovu leads the pro-Malema camp while regional chairman, Jomo Sibiya, leads the pro-Zuma camp.
Sibiya addressed the league members outside the venue last night, imploring them to remain disciplined and to unite branches in defence of the league.
“We are sorry for what happened in there. It was too brutal,” he said. Some of the members had vomited on the floor after the tear gas was sprayed on them.
These members had gathered outside the building singing pro-Zuma songs. They also sang Amandla Asemasebeni (power lies with the branches), a reminder to their national leaders about where they draw their support.
The crowd also demanded to be addressed by Mthandeni Dlungwane, the ousted provincial chairman of the league, who arrived at the venue after the chaotic dispersal.
“We would be engaging the leadership of the ANC on what has just happened. We are glad that the leadership of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal understands that what is happening is just a ploy to destabilise the province,” Dlungwane told supporters.
He said as far as they were concerned they were still the legitimate leaders of the league in KZN.
Last night, members of the disbanded provincial executive committee met the ANC’s provincial working committee to discuss the developments in the league.
Ndlovu said another meeting was expected soon, adding that many branches were in support of Malema and the entire leadership of the league.
“We are not shaken,” he said.
“In fact we would be waiting for communication from the national leadership so that they can come and address us.
“We would adhere to any decision of the national executive committee because we are not running a mockery here.”
The league’s national leaders are expected to address other regions in the country this week.