More confusion at ANC meeting

Justice Malala

Justice Malala

It was a good day for unfounded rumours and conspiracy theories in Polokwane yesterday as the bitter in-fighting continued in the ANC.

By midday yesterday a thick pall of despair and confusion hung over the proceedings as conspiracy theories, accusations and counter-accusations flew thick and fast between the Zuma and Mbeki camps.

Delegates desperate for information asked journalists for clarity, fuelling the rumours as reporters smelt a good story.

The first of the day was that President Thabo Mbeki was on the verge of conceding defeat and would announce his withdrawal from the race.

The rumour circulated by SMS from delegate to delegate then to the media. The SABC got so excited that the Mbeki camp dispatched Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa to give an interview denying the existence of such a move.

The second rumour came from people around Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. It alleged that Jacob Zuma adviser and former national intelligence agency head Mo Shaik was involved with the company that would conduct the elections.

The rumour was fuelled by an SMS that read: "NEWS FROM POLOKWANE: A company owned by Mo Shaik given a contract by Kgalema to handle and secure ballot papers. More ghost voters registered. Hence insistence on manual voting. Victory on Wednesday funded by Vivian Reddy. It's over! The ANC has been hijacked!"

Shaik said he had been told about the SMS and had no knowledge of the allegations.

"It is always like this. Throw mud at people. There is absolutely no truth to it. Absolutely no truth," he said.

The Zuma camp had, on the previous day, refused to take part in the elections if vote counting was done electronically.

But it was not the end of the rumours yet.

By midday it was alleged that the Mbeki camp was calling for a postponement of the conference.