Water bottles fly at ANC conference

2012-06-29 10:21

Water bottles flew in the ANC plenary late yesterday even before debates could begin.

According to a delegate who witnessed the incident, the fight started as people were entering the plenary hall at about 3pm and delegates from Limpopo sang songs about Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

This followed discussions on policy topics earlier in the day, including the contentious “second transition” in the conference’s 11 commissions.

The plenary was meant to give feedback to conference about what took place in commissions and what resolutions were taken.

According to a delegate who witnessed the incident, a group that favoured president Jacob Zuma started “pushing back” when the other group sang.

“It was like a competition, people were singing about the one leader and then others didn’t like it,” the delegate, who is a member of Zuma’s executive, said.

The pro-Zuma delegates apparently surrounded the Limpopo ones and then the bottle-throwing started.

“It was these small plastic bottles you get at conference, so it is not as if anyone got hurt.”

Another delegate, who wants Zuma to be replaced, said glasses also flew in the fight.

“Jeff Radebe had to plead from the podium,” he said. Radebe, as ANC head of policy, was one of those in charge of this week’s conference.

Delegates’ behaviour in the plenary mirrored that of the different groups who, earlier yesterday, convened outside the plenary hall in a sing-off.

The pro-Zuma delegates disrupted a walkabout of Motlanthe in the exhibition hall of the conference, where he was looking at stalls of companies like Tata Motors, African Rainbow Minerals and Emirates.

A group of 70 Zuma supporters thundered through the hall, prompting Motlanthe’s minders to usher him into the VIP lounge to get out of the way.

Once outside, the singing Zuma-ites were met by Motlanthe supporters who sang songs and rolled their hands in a soccer substitution sign.

» This story was updated after first published

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