MEC flees angry crowd

2011-03-21 00:00

CHAIRS flew and ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) member Lydia Johnson had to dive for cover yesterday when an ANC meeting at the KwaQanda community hall in Pietermaritzburg turned ugly.

Johnson, the provincial MEC for Public Works, had been sent to explain the nomination of the party’s ward 6 candidate for the local government elections on May 18.

This was clearly not the choice of the community, and they gave vent to their frustrations by throwing chairs and burning tyres outside the venue.

Bodyguards shielded Johnson on the stage by and escorted to her vehicle before she drove off, and the meeting ended early.

Community members expressed frustration that their nominee was ignored when the candidate, Agnes Mkhize, was appointed.

They claimed Mkhize was being imposed upon them by the local REC, alleging that she is a relative of KZN Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize.

Local ANC branch chairperson Thulebona “Karl” Ngcobo told The Witness they correctly followed all the guidelines the ANC had given them during the nomination process, but were surprised when the community’s choice of candidate was overlooked.

“On Thursday we were called to a meeting at the provincial headquarters in Durban whereby we were informed that our number one candidate had been sacrificed for gender balance and a female candidate had been chosen to take his place. Since the candidate was nominated by the ANC branch and supported by the community, we requested that the ANC come to the area and explain its decision to the community.

“We are disappointed with the turn of events at this meeting as we intended everything to be done orderly and peacefully. We tried to calm down the situation, but the people were too angry.”

Ngcobo said that during the nomination process Falakhe Makhathini was nominated to stand for the ward. Mkhize was second choice.

During the chaos that broke out at yesterday’s meeting, an ANC REC member, who is known to this newspaper, manhandled this journalist three times and forced him out of the meeting, threatening him with violence.

Community leaders intervened to allow the journalist back in. After Johnson had left the meeting, the REC member was also forced to leave the area, with angry people banging on his car.

ANC provincial spokesperson Dr Makhosi Khoza said the decision to select Mkhize as the ward candidate was based merely on the need for equal gender representation, not because she is related to the premier. “This was not meant to subvert local democracy, but it is an ANC strategy to address what is dictated in the Constitution. Unless political parties start to deliberately do something, gender representation will always be a challenge.

“The ANC will have to go back to the drawing board as we are encountering community resistance on this issue. We cannot force a ward candidate upon the community,” Khoza said.

He apologised on behalf of the ANC for the manhandling of the journalist and promised an investigation.

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