Zuma commends delegates for good behaviour despite chaos

2012-06-29 17:26

President Jacob Zuma weathered a storm this evening when he returned to give his closing address to the ANC policy conference after it descended into chaos.

Zuma addressed delegates on the outcome of the conference after he had to be taken out of the hall when delegates came to blows.

In his address there was no sign of the fight that broke out earlier. In fact, he commended delegates for their good behaviour.

Zuma also talked about the achievements of the conference and how it re-affirmed the need for faster and more radical economic transformation.

“A situation as grave as it is in terms of the economy cannot continue. At some point those who feel the pain might say ‘enough is enough’,” he said while the audience agreed emphatically.

Earlier, delegates physically fought with each other on the conference floor.

One delegate lamented after the conference. “I never thought it would come to this, I knew this conference was going to be bad but not this bad,” the Eastern Cape delegate told City Press.

City Press has learnt that Zuma had to hurriedly leave the conference hall to get away.

The problem started when NEC member Enoch Godongwana presented the much-vaunted report about state intervention in the economy, and especially in mining.

Once he had made his presentation several provinces – including Gauteng, Limpopo and North West – voiced their dissent. Some provinces, like the Western Cape, wanted to find a middle ground between nationalisation and state intervention.

The Youth League supported full-scale nationalisation while the South African Communist Party (SACP) rejected it.

Eventually the debate became heated and delegates came to blows. At this point Zuma left the stage and walked out of the hall.

As he left the Youth League deputy secretary-general, Kenitswe Mosenogi, ran after him, allegedly to ask him to come back and “be bigger than this and solve it,” according to a Youth League source who witnessed the event.

She was, however, held back by Zuma’s bodyguards and he didn’t look back.

At some point ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and treasurer-general Mathews Phosa were seen leaving the hall to go to the VIP caucus room.

As reports emerged from the meeting that it had stalled because those for and against nationalisation were calling for points of order, journalists were ushered to a far entrance away from the hall and told to wait there.

Then they were passed through scanners in small groups and detained in a small room, where security guards prevented them from leaving.

Zuma returned at 5:40pm from the holding room where he waited for the dust to settle before his closing address.

Meanwhile delegates were singing song in favour of Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

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