Police called in after clash at ANC branch meeting

The meeting of the Tracy Malatji ANC branch in Limpopo turned into an ugly affair after members of two opposing camps clashed at Ponani Primary School near Tzaneen.

The police were called by branch leadership on Sunday as about 30 party members hurled insults at them and threatened to vandalise the school building in which the meeting to nominate delegates to the regional conference was held.

Tracy Malatji branch is among at least 120 branches that passed an audit to participate in the much anticipated Mopani regional conference.

The Mopani regional executive committee, which wanted President Jacob Zuma replaced by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe at last year’s Mangaung elective conference, was disbanded by the ANC provincial task team (PTT).

The PTT was formed after Luthuli House disbanded the Cassel Mathale-led provincial executive committee, which also supported Motlanthe in Mangaung.

Some members of the branch prefer economic development MEC Charlie Sekwati for the position of regional chairperson while others support former regional deputy chairperson David Maake.

A branch member who did not want to be named said that the branch leaders, who have thrown their full weight behind Sekwati, barred those who supported Maake from partaking in the crucial meeting.

“We were excluded from participating because we wanted Maake. We don’t want Sekwati because we don’t know him,” said a member.

Another member said that the leadership knew those who supported Maake and told them they were not members in good standing and disqualified them.

“They just used that as a smoke screen to sideline us,” said the member.

The member said they were shocked when two police vans with about 10 heavily armed police officers arrived and forced them to disperse.

“They use state agencies to intimidate and silence us. This time they have gone too far,” said the member.

Branch chairperson Jonathan Machimane confirmed that they called the police after “hooligans” disrupted the meeting and threatened them with violence.

“We called the police because those people who were clearly not members of the ANC just came there to disrupt the meeting to protect their own interests.

“These are the people who benefited from the previous leadership and are now opposed to change. They arrived there with tons of beers and braai stands and started braaing meat.

“When we told them to leave, they started chanting slogans and disrupted our meeting. This is ill-discipline as true members of the ANC would not do that,” he said.

Machimane said he was disappointed that his branch would now not participate in the regional conference since it had missed the deadline.

“It is unfortunate that our branch would not be represented in the conference. The same thing happened when we were to go to Mangaung last year. We did not go because people disrupted our (branch general meeting),” he said.

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