'Root out thugs‚' says Ramaphosa as two shot dead‚ 14 hurt at ANC meeting

President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa
Image: GCIS

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the party to root out thugs who disrupt party meetings and in some cases even kill their comrades.

“The prestige of the ANC should not be sacrificed at the altar of political expediency and thuggery. When we see thugs among us we must call them out because the ANC is not an organisation of thugs. It is an organisation that has a great lineage of leaders‚ members [and] people who have always been disciplined‚” said Ramaphosa on Monday.

This was in reference to a shoot-out at an ANC branch meeting in Lephalale‚ Limpopo‚ at the weekend which left two members dead and 14 seriously injured.

“Yesterday we received the sad news of comrades who were shot at‚ at an ANC meeting in Lephalale‚” said Ramaphosa. “Our heads are hanging in shame. We should strive to root out these negative tendencies in the movement where thugs are rented to disrupt meetings. They are rented to intimidate and even kill members of the ANC.”

Ramaphosa described the culprits as members with an abiding sense of entitlement who believed they are entitled to positions and would do anything to get them.

“My view is that those types of comrades are those who just want to plunder resources of our people and not serve our people. Those who want to serve our people are disciplined‚ are orderly‚ are humble — people who put the interests of the ANC ahead of their own.”

Ramaphosa said as part of its renewal process‚ the ANC has to “take out” disorderly behaviour‚ disallow and call out disorderly people in its ranks.

“Those people are the type when their desires cannot be realised‚ everything should stop and they will embark on every means — from going to court‚ coming to meetings with weapons and guns to disrupt and to ensure that what they want is finally realised. That has to stop.

“We should be disciplined‚ where we all practise democratic centralism and we all practise respect for one another and follow the dictates of our organisation‚ the rules‚ the constitution‚” he said.

Ramaphosa was virtually addressing a regional conference of the ANC's Norman Mashabane region in Limpopo‚ which elected new leadership over the weekend. He praised delegates for successful elections and for being peaceful.

ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said the branch general meeting (BGM) where the shoot-out allegedly took place was held to nominate a ward councillor candidate.

“The latest report is that two people lost their lives and 14 were seriously injured in a shoot-out during an ANC BGM to nominate a ward councillor candidate in Lephalale‚ Limpopo.

“The disruption of organisational processes and meetings of the ANC is a new cancer that must be exorcised from the ranks of our movement. This negative tendency of hooliganism and thuggery has got no place in our organisation‚” said Mabe in a statement.

He said the ANC will investigate the matter and should it be found that the culprits are ANC members in good standing‚ they would be summarily suspended and also reported to law-enforcement agencies.

More than 2‚500 branch executive committees have been elected since March in 4‚500 biannual branch general meetings held across the country‚ with a majority proceeding peacefully‚ added Mabe.