Mthethwa causes havoc
TROUBLE continues to plague the Free State ahead of its much anticipated provincial elective conference in two weeks' time.
The road to elections - in which incumbent provincial chairman and premier Ace Magashule will seek to return to power - has been marred by violence and intense political lobbying among branch members.
In the latest incident, which allegedly took place on Sunday, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa was placed at the centre of a chaotic branch meeting, where he allegedly stormed into the gathering and spearheaded proceedings.
Mthethwa is understood to have told Phuthaditjhaba branch members that he would conduct proceedings in place of the person who had originally been deployed to the meeting.
Angry members told Sowetan yesterday they lost patience with the police minister, who allegedly entered the meeting with a host of heavily armed police officers, VIP protection officers and tactical response unit members in tow.
The meeting was eventually "abandoned at 11.30pm" after more than 100 members of the 259 who are said to have gathered walked out. The branch has 516 audited members, according to deputy chairman Mahlomola Majake.
Majake said Mthethwa imposed himself on members and refused to listen when concerns were raised. He also accused Mthethwa - whose conduct he described as "un-ANC" - of favouring a group sympathetic to Magashule.
"Nathi came here with many officers accompanying him.
"He just barged into the meeting and shouted 'Amandla' before telling us he would be conducting proceedings. It was a surprise because we were expecting someone else."
Mthethwa's presence in the Free State caught provincial ANC secretary Sibongile Besani by surprise.
"I am shocked to learn that he was in the province at all because nothing was reported to me," he said.
Mthethwa did not respond to queries while his spokesman Zweli Mnisi referred all queries to ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu, who had not responded by the time of going to print.
Majake said Mthethwa was riled when members wanted to know why the branch meeting was proceeding despite the findings of a task team led by Mining Minister Susan Shabangu were still outstanding.
Sunday's meeting was convened after an unsuccessful initial gathering on April 15, where it was discovered that Majake's name did not appear on the branch register and that the meeting was held without the branch chairman's knowledge.