activists in a stand-off

MEMBERS of the Mashishing Activists Forum and a newly formed breakaway group, the Mashishing Youth Forum, are at loggerheads over problems in the volatile Thaba Chweu municipality.

The area has experienced service delivery protests that resulted in the burning of government buildings, houses, vehicles and cellphone containers and the death of at least two people over the past four months.

Members of the activists forum have accused the youth forum of behaving like Cope members by breaking away from the activist forum to form an opposition forum "hired to make the municipality ungovernable".

Samora Mlotshwa, co-founder and spokesperson of the forum , said youth members were lobbying the community to kill him and the forum's chairperson Mandla Mabelane.

He said the activist forum "claims that we have accepted bribes from the government to persuade is to convince the community to stop the violence".

"These people went around announcing that our chairperson (Mabelane) and I have to be killed because we have stopped the violence after receiving bribes from the government," Mlotshwa said.

"We want to make it clear that we received no bribes and will not stoop that low.

"We stopped the violence because the government is addressing our concerns."

Mlotshwa claimed that high-profile ANC officials were funding the youth forum to make sure violence continued in the area.

"Most of the youth forum members belonged to our organisation but left after being convinced by high-level ANC officials, whose aim is to oust Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza by instigating sustained unrest in the province," Mlotshwa said.

He claimed he and Mabelane had accidentally bumped into some top ANC officials holding a meeting with members of the youth forum at a local restaurant recently.

"We were there to eat and we caught them off guard." Mlotshwa claimed.

"By the time they realised we were there it was too late because we had already become aware that their agenda revolved around plans to oust the Premier."

"Some of us have received death threats from anonymous callers for knowing too much."

Mlotshwa refused to mention the names of the ANC officials involved, saying the matter was at a "very sensitive" stage since his forum was consulting on how to handle the explosive situation.

The forum's chairperson Lube Nkosi could not be reached for comment since both his cellphones were switched off.

ANC spokesperson Paul Mbenyane said he was in a meeting and could not comment.