ANCYL meeting aborted as furious members hurl insults at Mbalula

Thozi Manyisana

A meeting in the Eastern Cape organised by the ANC Youth League's national leadership was aborted as angry league members bayed for leader Fikile Mbalula's blood.

Mbalula had fingers pointed at him before he was whisked away from the Buffalo City council chambers in King William's Town yesterday.

The pro-Jacob Zuma Youth League leader was confronted by about 300 agitated Eastern Cape ANCYL members who had arrived in a fleet of taxis.

When Mbalula arrived, he was greeted with boos and angry chanting. As he entered the venue, league members blocked his way and pointed fingers at him.

Mayhem erupted when one of the Youth League leaders told the crowd: "You were not invited here . you should leave the hall now and let the provincial executive committee and the national executive committee proceed with their meeting."

On hearing this, the crowd charged at the table where Mbalula and his colleagues were sitting.

They chanted: "Bayasimosha sihlaleleni izinto zisonakala?" [Why are we not doing anything while things are getting out of hand?]

Mbalula, accompanied by ANCYL secretary-general Sihle Zikalala, treasurer-general Phumezo Mqingwana and national spokesman Zizi Kodwa, was then escorted out of the council chambers to a waiting car while the crowd tried to close in on them.

The crowd was angered by the recent disbanding of the provincial executive committee, which was said to support President Thabo Mbeki.

Provincial ANCYL secretary Thabo Matiwane said: "We condemn this incident because we have not invited these people."

Provincial ANCYL spokesman Nkosifikile Gqomo said: "There is no organisation in this province."

He said ANCYL in the Eastern Cape was against supporting Jacob Zuma to be president.

"We are saying to the national Youth League that they should open discussions on this matter - we have the right to support whoever we want," said Gqomo.

Gqomo told Sowetan that the aborted meeting had been moved to a bed-and-breakfast house opposite the ANC's Amathole regional offices.

Anti-Mbalula members of the league continued their protest in the presence of a heavily-armed police contingent.