PMB woman still furious after seat incident at ANC event

2015-10-15 14:08
Zama Ngema from Imbali Unit 1 who was told to move to the back seats at the city hall during Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address.

Zama Ngema from Imbali Unit 1 who was told to move to the back seats at the city hall during Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address. (Ian Carbutt)

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Pietermaritzburg -Two weeks after an incident at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall where she refused to give up her seat when Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa came to town.

Ngema (58), from Imbali Unit 1, an ANC member and ward committee member who not only helps bring development to her community but also works closely with young people, was told by two “young boys” from the ANC to move from her seat.

“I had to borrow R11 to be there that day. The forum was supposed to start at 3.30 pm, but it started at about 4.30 pm. I got there early, at about 3 pm for a reason, which was to get the best seat. Those two boys had the nerve to come to me and say, ‘these seats have been reserved for VIPs’ and that I should move to the back,” she said.

“Nothing was put there to show that those seats were reserved,” said Ngema. She added, “If there was something there, I would not have put up a fight.”

Ngema was sitting in the second row to get a clear view of Ramaphosa, when she was told to move.

“I still cry just thinking about it. Those boys made me feel less important to the ANC, like I was some kind of door mat,” she said.

Ngema has been an ANC activist since she was in primary school.

“I have been a member of the ANC long before them. I was even close to going into exile when my elder brother stopped me because I had already had a child to take care of. For them to make me feel like nobody is really painful and sad,” she said.

Ngema is a single mother of two surviving children and lives with her son, who survives on casual work. Her daughter is in Grade 9 and she has a 10-month-old grandchild.

“I love the ANC. I am a member of the ward committee and I help bring development to this community. We are busy on a project to help young people who want to further their studies but don’t have the money,” she said.

Ngema said she was paid R300 per month for her work, “which is not enough because I have to find a way to add to this money and pay for my child’s transport as well as feed them”.

She was particularly incensed because, she said, “the ANC is nothing without us, but we are being told that we are not VIPs”.

Nevertheless she refused to blame the party for her experience.

“The ANC is not to be blamed for this because to them we are all equal. It’s these kids who have joined the party that need discipline because I am sure they were saving space for their friends.”

ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said: “We apologise for what happened to Zama Ngema. As much as a decision was taken at national level that all ANC members and leaders will be treated equally, when we reserve seats people are told before the meeting starts, and we reserve them if there is a need to do so. Our members play a very important role in this party and we want to apologise to Ngema for what happened.”

Ngema was unrepentant and insisted that she would not give up her seat at future events either. “We just have to teach young people that respect goes a long way,” she said

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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