Picture: Noni Mokati
Matjhabeng -  A meeting of the ANC's Lejweleputswa region in the Free State almost descended into chaos as some members wearing T-shirts in support of presidential contenders Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma were told to leave the gathering.

The meeting held at the Ferdi Meyer Hall in Matjhabeng initially began with a low turnout but members packed the hall two hours later. 

Picture: Noni Mokati
Before introducing ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, who was scheduled to address members, the Lejweleputswa region chairman Wilson Speelman instructed those wearing T-shirts to leave the hall.

"Comrades, I'm not asking any questions. I'm saying anyone who is wearing T-shirts with NDZ or Cyril must get out of the meeting," said Speelman.

Some member protested up hearing this but Speelman was defiant: "We are still speaking with you in a disciplined manner. If you know you are wearing these T-shirts, please get out. We are not going to allow it comrades, whether you like it or not," he said.

A handful members shouted back to Speelman: "Don't disrespect us."

Mangaung municipality mayor councillor Olly Mlamleli had to intervene saying the members can stay, adding the meeting had to continue.

No sooner she said this Speelman retorted and asked members who were from a different branch to leave but was ignored.

Once calm was restored; Speelman told those at the meeting that when President Jacob Zuma is attacked, regions will not remain silent.

Picture: Noni Mokati
"We will defend the ANC and the President. Whoever will be elected (at the December elective conference) we will defend them. Branches of the ANC have the responsibility to unite the party," he said.

Speelman also said the main problem the ANC had was white monopoly capital.

During his address; Mantashe, who was in the province as part of the ANC's organizational work, said those engaged in factional battles were destroying the party.

"The factions that you love here are eating up the ANC like cancer. You are eating up the ANC."

Mantashe further pointed out that the reason why the party's top leaders banned t-shirts was that branding divides the organisation.

Mantashe said heading to the national elective conference in December,  the process of succession can't be a free for all but must be managed.

Mantashe also added members had to remind communities of the journey they have travelled with the ANC adding whilethe party has its trials and has been tested, it has equally been wonderful.

The Free State, led by premier Ace Magashule, is currently facing woes. Recently two provincial members filed an urgent court application at the Bloemfontein High Court in a bid to have the Provincial Executive Committee dissolved and Magashule removed as chairperson.

"Four years of Magashule's term has ended. We are going to BGMs. Are we going there with an unconstitutional leadership?," a member asked at the meeting after a handful of individuals were give a chance to ask Mantashe questions.

Mantashe was also taken to task by members regarding his tweets about his views on a women becoming a deputy president of the party.

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