Violence over decision to dissolve regional executive.
ANC provincial chairman Phumulo Masualle had to flee a party meeting in Sterkstroom after an angry mob forced their way through municipal gates baying for his blood.
Stones were thrown at Masualle’s black Mercedes-Benz ML as he fled and municipal buildings were damaged by flying rocks.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Sibongile Soci said 10 Sterkstroom residents appeared in the town’s magistrate’s court yesterday on charges of public violence.
Soci said this was after public order police service (Pops) officers from Queenstown were called to clear a crowd of more than 1000 protestors blockading main roads into the town.
“Sterkstroom police had to escort (Masulle) out of the town before Pops arrived and arrested the 10,” said Soci.
Masualle went to Sterkstroom on Friday to communicate a provincial ANC decision to dissolve the party’s Chris Hani regional executive committee (REC).
This is the region that championed the ousting of provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane during the elective conference in Port Elizabeth last June, but failed.
In the latest incident protesters burnt tyres and threw stones, demanding answers as to why their structure was being disbanded.
Nkwankca sub-regional secretary Thembinkosi Ngciki was with Masualle in the council chambers when they heard stones landing on the building.
He said a huge crowd was blockading the gate, demanding to see Masualle. “Tyres were burning around the municipal building as well as Sterkstroom township where we were scheduled to meet before we decided to come to the chambers,” he said.
As the chaos unfolded, the meeting was hastily called off.
Masualle’s bodyguards rushed him to his vehicle and they fled.
When the crowd realised the vehicle was not stopping at the gate, they pelted it with stones.
“The Nkwanca mayor [Thandazo Qamgwana] tried to calm the crowd but it was hard because it was a huge crowd and people were very angry,” said Ngciki.
ANC branches throughout the Queenstown region are in revolt against the provincial decision to disband the regional structures, as well as two sub-regions – Ngcobo and Sakhisizwe.
Despite Friday’s fiasco, the decision to dissolve the Chris Hani REC stands. It means that:
- The region cannot deploy party members to councils;
- It cannot send candidate lists in preparation for elections; and
- Its working committee and officials have no powers to take decisions without provincial leaders deployed to the region.
Mabuyane confirmed Friday’s violence, saying the Sterkstroom meeting did not materialise as planned, and that the municipal building as well as Masualle’s car had been stoned but “fortunately no one was harmed”.
“We did not expect people who call themselves ANC members to behave like this,” he said
Mabuyane said it was believed the protestors wanted to protect ANC leaders implicated in a forensic report on maladministration in Nkwanca municipality.
“It is clear that this protest was orchestrated by some of the local leaders who are implicated in the forensic report. The two towns, Molteno and Sterkstroom, are now divided over the findings,” said Mabuyane.
Masualle’s deputy, Sakhumzi Somyo, experienced a similar but less violent protest in the Lukhanji sub-region when he led a provincial working committee (PWC) delegation to communicate the same decision last Friday.
Former Nelson Mandela Metro deputy mayor Nancy Sehlwayi led a delegation to Inxuba Yethemba sub-region the same day.
“Even though the Lukhanji meeting continued, there were elements showing signs of discontent and agitation regarding the PWC decision,” said Mabuyane.
“In fact, although we have yet to receive full reports, indications are there were similar elements of resistance everywhere.”
Inxuba Yethemba chairman Thembisile Bobo said they were unhappy that the disbandment was first communicated to them through the media.
The Dispatch reported on the matter three weeks ago.
“We cannot allow such behaviour to continue,” said Bobo.
“The PWC does not have the powers to disband structures but it can implement PEC decisions.
“As a result six out of nine Inxuba branches rejected the decision to disband Chris Hani, and one branch abstained,” he said.
Mabuyane said some ANC members were more loyal to individuals than the organisation.
“They think they can be deployed to better positions if they are loyal to those leaders. That is what we are trying to deal with,” he said. — firstname.lastname@example.org