WATCH: Stones thrown outside EFF's Tshwane conference

2018-05-28 17:25
EFF flag. (AFP)

EFF flag. (AFP)

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WATCH: EFF speaks out on Cabinet reshuffle, KPMG, Maritzburg College students

2017-10-17 12:09

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has called the media to a press conference at their headquarters in Braamfontein on Tuesday. Watch the live stream above. WATCH

The Economic Freedom Fighters says it will not engage with the people who pointed guns and threw stones at each other ahead of its Tshwane regional conference on Sunday.

One party member, who did not want to be named, told News24 that guns had been pulled on members at the Tshwane metro police department, which was the conference’s registration venue.

He explained that the tension which led to guns being pulled was over some of the delegates who were participating in the leadership contest. Disgruntled members claimed the party was keeping them out.

In a separate incident, this time outside the conference venue, several people, mostly dressed in EFF T-shirts and berets, can be seen in a video picking up stones and throwing them over the gate at marshals dressed in army fatigues and EFF berets at the Fair City hotel in Pretoria on Sunday.

There have been ructions in the party as members prepare for provincial conferences in the lead-up to the EFF’s second national conference, which is expected to elect new leaders.

READ: Fierce contestation in EFF Gauteng as assemblies season firmly kicks in

Members have dubbed the ructions as a battle between continuity with the current national leadership versus "anti-continuity factions", ahead of its national conference in 2019.

"60% of the delegates meant to be attending the assembly were replaced. When some of us, who are actual delegates, tried to register, we were told we couldn’t. There was commotion as we attempted to figure out how and why this had happened," explained the party member.

He insisted there were bogus party members and branches participating in the conference.

"We had students from Wits University and Limpopo bused in to participate in the conference. Some told us they had been called and paid to vote for Mo Africa [Mabongwana]," the party member added.

'We were locked out and people just got angry'

However, EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said there was no evidence that the people involved in the violence were bona fide party members.

The regional conference did go ahead, with Mabongwana elected as chairperson, while Leofi Leshabane, who had contested for that position, was made his deputy. Nqobile Mhlongo was elected as secretary, Ntebuheng Mnguni his deputy, and member of the Tshwane legislature Obakeng Ramabodu as regional treasurer.

Another EFF member, who was also stuck outside the conference venue, told News24 that delegates had headed to the hotel following a promise that their concerns would be addressed.

"When we got to the Fair City Hotel, we were locked out and people just got angry," said the source.

But one of the elected leaders told News24 that everything had gone well and dismissed the violence, despite a video showing the stone throwing.

The party member blamed one of the contestants for the regional chairperson position for attempting to disrupt the conference.

"I don’t even understand why it’s a big deal. The people I wanted to win didn’t even win, but I think our branches disregarded the slates because they wanted unity," said the regional leader.

'No one stormed out or threw chairs'

Ndlozi, who distanced the party from the violence, told News24 that there was no proof of the claims being made to the media by disgruntled party members.

"There is no proof of their claims, whether they were indeed delegates refused entry or even whether they indicated all of this prior to conference," said Ndlozi.

He said there was no violence inside the conference, just healthy contestation which saw every position contested, with slim margins between winners and losers.

"People managed to play by the rules. In the end, no one stormed out or threw chairs," Ndlozi insisted.

He said the party’s leadership had recently called for a regional conference in Limpopo to be rerun because delegates who were left out of the conference had raised it with higher structures.

"There is a simple option. That is the absolute condemnation of violence as a means of express our dissatisfaction," said Ndlozi.

The EFF spokesperson said the party would not entertain those who used violence in order to be heard.

"There is never a need to throw a stone or shoot a gun because you are claiming you are not allowed in as a delegate," he said.

This is the second violent incident linked to the EFF in as many weeks.

Read more on:    eff

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