Three shoot-outs in ANC’s Wild West

2012-05-05 17:03

Bullets are flying at ANC meetings in the Free State and party bosses are being guarded by police officers as the ruling party prepares for its provincial conference this month.

The situation concerns Luthuli House so much that it has sent a high-profile delegation, led by Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, to the Free State.

The ANC’s provincial secretary, Sibongile Besani, said the delegation started its work on Monday and was there to address “technical issues” in the run-up to the conference.

He said the group would also address “disciplinary issues”.

A new movement has been formed in the Free State ANC that openly opposes Premier Ace Magashule’s bid to stay in charge.

ANC members supporting the new movement, which calls itself the Regime Change Group, are backing axed tourism and economic affairs MEC Mxolisi Dukwana to challenge Magashule at the conference.

Tension is mounting: three shooting incidents at party meetings in the province’s Motheo region, which includes Bloemfontein,
have been reported to police.

ANC provincial spokesperson William Bulwane said shootings at meetings were happening all over the Free State. “Factionalism and infighting seems to fuel this new trend in the ANC,” he said.

The first reported shooting happened in Thaba Nchu at a political training session hosted by the Free State MK Military Veterans Association in March.

The organisation’s spokesperson, Tony Marais, said when members arrived at the venue they were confronted by a group of people armed with knobkerries, pangas and rocks. Senior provincial ANC leader Mzwandile Phupha was arrested and charged with attempted murder after firing several shots. He said he shot to defend himself and his comrades.

Since then there have been two confirmed incidents at party meetings – and the ANC says there may have been more.

Two confirmed incidents happened at party meetings in Bloemfontein’s ward 3 and ward 14 on April 15 and 22 respectively.

But ANC insiders in the Free State said there had been at least six shooting incidents they knew of in recent months.

Political tension in the province has pushed Magashule to beef up his security – more police officers and vehicles now accompany him when he goes out on official business.

Bulwane confirmed reports of police officers being deployed to ANC branch meetings.

He said police were called when anyone felt they were at risk.

“When police are present at meetings, it is because they were asked,” he said. He described ratcheting up personal security for the premier as “a clear case of the abuse of power and state resources”.

Dukwana said the shooting incidents reported were the result of ANC members in the province becoming increasingly angry.

“We are still waiting for the outcome of the investigation into alleged irregularities in last year’s election candidate list and the same things seem to happen now at branch level in the province,” he said.

Bulwane said the shootings had not been discussed on a provincial executive level. “We are appealing to members to be disciplined and to uphold the ANC constitution,” he said.

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