The ANC has called for “strong action” and justice to be taken as violence rocks its branch general meetings (BGM) in parts of Mpumalanga.
There have been reports of shootings, stabbings and the use of chairs during processes where branch members nominate leaders they want to see elected to lead the party in the province.
While numerous ANC members have been hospitalised, at least two party members have been killed in the past two weeks.
A video circulating on social media shows a party member, believed to be ward councillor Luther Mhaule, shooting at members who attended a BGM in the eHlanzeni region over the weekend.
The province was preparing for an elective conference, which was set for April, but it has since been postponed as the ANC has frozen all its conferences, including the much-anticipated national general council, due to the global novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
The postponements were announced by ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa following the party’s national working committee meeting in Pretoria on Monday. All ANC conferences are expected to be postponed for at least three months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ramaphosa also decried the violence which took place in Mpumalanga, saying those responsible for the attacks were not fit to be ANC members.
“We are extremely concerned that ANC members should find it so easy to quarrel among themselves, to disagree among themselves up to and including a point where they unleash violence on each other, with some losing their lives,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the party condemned the acts of violence and would ensure that the perpetrators were “seriously taken to book”.
“Those people who’ve killed other people in ANC meetings do not deserve to be members of the ANC, and shouldn’t be members because their actions go completely against what the ANC stands for in its principles, its values and its ethos,” he said.
Provincial secretary Lindiwe Ntshalintshali expressed dismay at a ward councillor being at the centre of some of the clashes.
She told journalists that public officials had no business attending and sparking fights at BGMs.
Ntshalintshali said that, even before the fears of the spread of the coronavirus, a decision had been taken to halt the processes in light of the fierce contestation and violence which had rocked the province in its build-up to the conference.
This would be the first time Mpumalanga seeks to officially replace David Mabuza, who was elected deputy president of the ANC, and is also the country’s second in command.
Ntshalintshali said, while the ANC had always welcomed contestation and party members throwing their support behind their preferred leaders, those who felt dissatisfied had no right to use force and intimidation.