Johannesburg - Violence in ANC branch meetings ahead of Gauteng’s elective conference has prompted Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane to request deployment of crime intelligence and plain-clothes police to the gatherings. The extraordinary move comes as the contest rages over who will lead together with current acting chairperson Premier Gauteng Premier David Makhura, who is set to be elected uncontested.
In an email circulating among ANC, SACP and Cosatu regional leaders, Nkosi-Malobane said she had asked provincial commissioner Major-General Deliwe de Lange to deploy the spooks, and also notes that police will be on standby in case some try to shoot members at meetings.
“It has come to our attention that there is increased sporadic violence in our branch general meetings, caused by unknown forces. In order to protect our members for the remaining branch meetings, I have requested the PC (De Lange) to deploy crime intelligence as well as plain-clothes officers to identify perpetrators and forces of darkness, and arrest them,” she said.
“Local police will also be on standby to assist in the event that some people decide to shoot and scare our members from exercising their right as members of the ANC."
Nkosi-Malobane is also a member of the ANC’s provincial executive and working committees and the convener of provincial executive committee (PEC) deployees to regions where they are assessing preparations for the holding of the provincial conference next month. Three senior ANC leaders have confirmed knowledge of the email.
Nkosi-Malobane’s spokesperson Ofentse Morwane contradicted himself when responding to written questions. He dismissed as malicious and misleading a suggestion that she had instructed De Lange to deploy crime intelligence officers to ANC branch gatherings.
“It needs to be stated that where there is any gathering of people that is characterised by violence, the police have a legal mandate to intervene, irrespective of political affiliation. And the MEC, as custodian of safety in the province, is responsible for ensuring the safety of the people of Gauteng. The MEC has received reports of incidents of violence at some political party gatherings,” he said.
“The email referred to below is malicious and devoid of truth as suggested and should be understood in the context of the interests of safety in the province. The MEC is fully conversant with the separation of powers conferred to her both as the MEC of community safety in Gauteng and as a deployee of the ANC in the province,” he added.
SAPS provincial spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters referred questions to Nkosi-Malobane, saying De Lange had not received the request. The ANC in the province has also defended Nkosi-Malobane, saying her remarks were triggered by violence in the Sedibeng region, where she is deployed. Provincial spokesperson Motalatale Modiba said the PEC had, however, not directed her to make the call for plain-clothes police and spies to be deployed to ANC branch meetings.
“There have been isolated cases of disruptions and threats to members, which raised concerns among PEC deployees in Sedibeng. Therefore, the suggestion and proposal raised by the convener of PEC deployees in Sedibeng, comrade Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, should be understood within that context,” Modiba said. He said the ANC had so far been using former MK members to provide security at its meetings where disruptions have occurred and threats made.
Sedibeng regional spokesperson Themba Ndaba could not be reached for comment. But Sedibeng ANC Youth League regional spokesperson Thabiso Hlongwane dismissed reports of violence in the region, saying the provincial leadership’s claim was wrong. “Let the PEC give you concrete information on what they are talking about, because we don’t know what they are talking about. If they say there are incidents of violence in Sedibeng, they must indicate where and what happened and who are the culprits,” Hlongwane said.
“There is no violent activity that I know of which took place in Sedibeng. If it happened, it happened outside venues of the meetings. I have never seen one.”
In Joburg, 89 of the region’s 126 branches have sat and the ANC is set to hold its regional conference next Friday. Tshwane regional spokesperson Teboho Joala said while there were differences in leadership preferences, branch meetings were running smoothly with no need of law enforcement.
“We have not experienced or received reports of any incidents of misconduct or violence. They have been peaceful. Where people differed, they differed, but contestation does not mean absence of peace. We don’t need police in Tshwane,” Joala said.