Battle lines drawn, as factional songs take centre stage at ANC conference

2017-12-16 14:19
ANC delegates (Jan Gerber, News24)

ANC delegates (Jan Gerber, News24)

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Johannesburg - Friction between the Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma camps has started to creep into the ANC's national elective conference, as Eastern Cape delegates booed a group supporting the former AU commission chairperson.  

Eastern Cape delegates initially sang songs showing signs of unity for over an hour at Nasrec, Johannesburg, on Saturday morning. The group sang "Inkomfa ay'nadlame" (no violence during conference) and "Kungcono Bas'dhubule" (better they shoot us). 

Another group of ANC delegates, accompanied by ANC Women's League members, then crashed the festivities, singing songs in support of Dlamini-Zuma. They sang: "Emaweni we Nkosazana". 

The Eastern Cape delegates then started booing the Dlamini-Zuma supporters, drowning out their song. In an effort to contain delegates, Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) members from the Eastern Cape then ushered their delegation to one side to give room to the Dlamini-Zuma camp. 

- Visit our special report, #ANCVotes, for all the news, analysis and opinions about the ANC’s national elective conference.

ANC Eastern Cape provincial chair Oscar Mabuyane was seen reprimanding delegates. Some delegates told News24 that Mabuyane had reminded them that the ANC had issued an instruction that no factional songs could be sung during ANC events. 

In September, the Eastern Cape was divided during its provincial elective conference.

Dubbed the "festival of chairs" by Ramaphosa, the conference erupted into violence when delegates supporting former chair Phumulo Masualle and current chair Mabuyane clashed and threw chairs at each other. 

Masualle's delegation at that provincial conference had declared their preference for Dlamini-Zuma, while Mabuyane and his camp are known supporters of Ramaphosa.

However, the two camps showed signs of unity on Saturday, singing "Eastern Cape branches are united".   

Another group could be heard from a distance, singing "Inzima Le'ndlela inoZuma no Mfazi'wakhe" (It's a long road ahead with Zuma and his wife). 

Dlamini-Zuma is the ex-wife of outgoing ANC president Jacob Zuma. 

The conference was scheduled to start at 09:00, but was delayed for almost five hours after the NEC convened a special meeting on Saturday morning.

The meeting was convened after courts ruled that the ANC's North West Bojanala region, as well as PECs from KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State, could not vote at the conference, costing Dlamini-Zuma at least 100 delegates. 

The conference is now scheduled to start at 14:00. 

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