Deputy Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha Picture: @DRDLR_online/Twitter

Port Elizabeth - The African National Congress Eastern Cape provincial executive committee (PEC) has expressed shock at the behaviour displayed by a group of people who "claimed to be ANC members" at the ANC Nelson Mandela regional office - Florence Matomela House in Port Elizabeth - on Saturday.

"We are aware that the protests were well orchestrated to disrupt the appeal process of branches on the outcomes of the branch general meetings in the metro,"  ANC Eastern Cape secretary Oscar Mabuyane said on Sunday. 

"What shocked us the most was the presence of one ward councillor and PR councillor among the protesters, whose branches were not supposed to be part of the appeals on the day as they were already dealt with on Friday by the national NEC [national executive committee] team as led by cde Mcebisi Skwatsha," he said.

In the "harshest possible terms", the ANC PEC condemned such behaviour and called for a halt tor such atrocious displays of dissatisfaction, whatever the cause.

"Such makes the mockery of the right to protest and diminishes the stature of grievance and the genuine issues that may be raised. Immediately if there are any members of the ANC involved in such action they must desist from this behaviour or face investigation and disciplinary action by the organisation," Mabuyane said. 

This emerging tendency and practice among certain ANC members across the country to resort to violent protests, disruption of ANC meetings, forceful occupation, and burning down of ANC offices and symbols to challenge organisational decisions and processes was "destroying the organisation of OR Tambo". 

The ANC leadership needed to be consistent and decisive in dealing with these corrosive practices without fear or favour.

"We are sending a strong message to all ANC members that anyone who participates in violent protests and other acts of anarchy and ill-discipline will face the full might of the organisation," Mabuyane said.

On Saturday, it emerged that Skwatsha, the deputy rural development and land reform minister, was briefly held hostage by a group of protesters at the ANC regional headquarters at Florence Matomela House in Govan Mbeki Avenue on Saturday morning.

It was believed the incident occurred at about 10.30am. Police spokeswoman Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg said public order police were called in to “assist at the ANC offices in Govan Mbeki Avenue to escort Mr Mcebisi Skwatsha, from the department of rural development and land reform, back to his hotel after a few ANC members prevented him to leave the offices”.

Skwatsha was safely taken back to his hotel, Janse van Rensburg said.