Violence in ANC branches claims 2 members' lives

Mpumalanga premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane./ MANDLA KHOZA
Mpumalanga premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane./ MANDLA KHOZA

The ANC in Mpumalanga has suspended branch general meetings after violence has claimed the lives of two party members.

Several branch general meetings (BGMs) have turned violent the past two weekends over nominations for provincial leaders for the upcoming elective conference scheduled for next month.

Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane and acting provincial chairperson of the ANC Mandla Ndlovu are contesting for the chairmanship position left vacant by David Mabuza when he was elected deputy president of the ANC in 2017.

The party has failed on several occasions to host a provincial general council to replace Mabuza and his then deputy chairperson, Violet Siwela, who was also elected to the national executive committee of the the ruling party.

An ANC member was shot in the leg two weeks ago at ward 32 in KaBokweni when other members of the party tried to disrupt the meeting.

In the same ward, another man believed to be in his early 40s was beaten to death by other members on Saturday.

Another member was beaten to death at ward 17 at Msukaligwa municipality in Ermelo, also at the weekend.

Further gunshots were fired at another branch general meeting in Bushbuckridge.

In this incident, a video which Sowetan has seen showed ANC members fight over a locked gate where the meeting was to be held.

Another group could be seen holding pangas, while two other members fired gunshots in the air.

At Naas outside Komatipoort, ANC member Collen Magagula was stabbed, allegedly by a ward councillor, Veli Mabuza.

Mabuza was released on warning by the Nkomazi magistrate's court on charges of assault.

Acting provincial secretary of the ANC Lindiwe Ntshalintshali said ordinarily such meetings were peaceful. However, due to the violence displayed recently over leadership preferences, the ANC in the province had to suspend the process.

"The ANC in Mpumalanga is approaching its 13th provincial conference, and part of the process is for branches to undergo their BGMs for nomination of leadership and delegates," Ntshalintshali said.

"Under ordinary circumstances, this process is expected to run smoothly with tolerance for different views, however, the ANC has learnt with deep regret that some of the members who participate in these democratic processes have intentions that are beyond what is expected.

"Since [the meetings] started, we have noted a number of cases reported for intimidation and assault and this has caused us great concern. The ANC is saddened by the recent violent incidences during these gatherings which resulted in the death of its members.

"The provincial leadership has been made aware of two cases of loss of lives which took place during the BGM nomination processes. Two ANC members from ward 32 Mbombela and ward 17 Msukaligwa sub-regions have passed on due to intolerance of comrades regarding leadership preferences."

Ntshalintshali said the party was waiting for formal reports from affected branches.

"Any member of the ANC that contravened the ANC constitution and adopted conference guidelines will be subjected to internal disciplinary processes."

Ntshalintshali also called for "the law to take its course".

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brig Leonard Hlathi confirmed the deaths of two people. "We are investigating two cases of murder that transpired during meetings which turned violent. No one has been arrested yet."

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