EFF members claim they were coerced into an ANC 'ritual'

2016-03-27 16:50
(Photo: file, AFP)

(Photo: file, AFP)

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Mbombela - Members of the EFF in Mpumalanga claim they were coerced into participating in an ANC "ritual" against their will.

The allegations follow a well-publicised event held by the ANC to parade EFF members who had allegedly defected to the ruling party during a ceremony held at Mbombela stadium on March 19.

During the event, the would-be members were made to publicly tear up EFF T-shirts, sign membership forms and take the ANC oath.

An EFF member from Pienaar township near Mbombela, Busi Matsane, who claimed she participated against her will, said that she and fellow EFF members were lured to the event under false pretences.

She said she was given R15 airtime by an EFF member, Nomvula Magagula, to persuade other EFF members to attend an event which, she was told, would be addressed by the party's secretary general Godrich Gardee.

She said she mobilised seven EFF members and supporters to fill a minibus that was to ferry them to their meeting.

Matsane said she started suspecting that something was amiss when, halfway through their trip, Magagula phoned and told her that they should accept anything that they were being told when they reached their destination.

"When we arrived at the Mpumalanga government complex we were given brand-new EFF T-shirts, but the designs of the T-shirts were different from the official EFF T-shirts and the colours... were not the same as EFF colours."

She said later on the day they drove to the Mbombela stadium where they found people wearing ANC T-shirts and they were told that they were being welcomed back to the ANC.

"They ordered us to take off and tear up the EFF T-shirts that had been given to us earlier in exchange for the yellow ANC T-shirts. I was wearing my original EFF T-shirt, which I did not want to lose, so I managed to hide it in the minibus, because I was wearing a vest underneath," she said.


Matsane said that one EFF member who was not in their group tried to resist, but she was forced to take off and tear up her original EFF T-shirt, while others just tore up what she said were fake EFF T-shirts that had been handed out earlier.

She added that while ANC members had outnumbered them, two EFF members from her branch managed to sneak out when they discovered that the meeting had nothing to do with the EFF.

Matsane and those who stayed behind had to endure the entire ritual, as they did not have money for transport back home.

"If we also had money, we could have left, but we had to wait for the function to end because the only way to go back was in the mini bus that had brought us there," she said.

Magagula admitted, during a telephone interview, that she had given wrong information to the EFF members, but she claimed a former EFF organiser, Caleb Sibitane, had also misled her.

"I called Busi [Matsane] to apologise and [explain] that I had also been misled by Caleb. He had told me that this was an EFF meeting about projects meant to uplift the organisation," said Magagula.

Magagula said she was unaware at the time that Sibitane had defected to the ANC, and only became aware when another EFF member phoned and questioned why the EFF provincial office was unaware of the meeting.

She said when she confronted Sibitane he admitted that the meeting had been called by the ANC for EFF members who wanted to rejoin the ruling party. This prompted her to warn Matsane.

Sibitane, who is now an active member of the ANC, dismissed Magagula's allegations. He claimed that it was well publicised that he had joined the ANC last May, and that Magagula had also defected to the ANC last year.

"I can send you pictures we took with Nomvula in May last year when we returned to the ANC. I've been a member, I've been vocal in supporting the ANC in the social media and any given platform. So how would I be able to get the secretary-general of the EFF, while I'm a well-known member of the ANC?" said Sibitane.

At the time of going to press, however, he had not sent any pictures.

Mpumalanga EFF leader, Collen Sedibe said the incident was, "a sign of desperation from their [the ANC's] side because no organisation can mobilise people in the name of another. If they were genuine, they would have used their own organisation and leaders”.

Sedibe said that the ANC was losing support in Ehlanzeni district, and the public spectacle was meant to fool the ANC head office that they are gaining ground in Mpumalanga.

ANC regional secretary Phazamisa Mathe dismissed the allegations.

"Those who say the EFF T-shirts are fake are mistaken. The T-shirts are original EFF T-shirts. All those who were at the stadium rejoined the ANC and they were happy. Those who claim that they had been lied to about the meeting should have left," said Mathe.

When he was told that at least two members who had money had indeed left, he promised to investigate.

"It is unfortunate because I did not see them, but what is critically important is for me to go to that particular branch to investigate if that thing transpired or not and then I will come back to you," said Mathe.

Read more on:    anc  |  eff  |  mbombela  |  politics

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