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ANC Mpumalanga meeting mayhem: Shots fired, three injured

The ANC in Mpumalanga has confirmed that three of its members were shot at a branch meeting in Nkomazi on Sunday. They were preparing for the upcoming elective provincial conference.

Acting provincial ANC secretary Lindiwe Ntshalintshali said on Monday that the meeting took place in Driekoppies near Malelane in ward 24, but the members who were shot hailed from another branch in ward 26.

The ward 26 members arrived at the meeting, Ntshalintshali said, with the sole purpose of disrupting the meeting.

Nkomazi is the stronghold of former Ehlanzeni regional chairperson, Ngrayi Ngwenya. His membership was suspended for five years after he was charged with misconduct as part of a group who went to Nkandla to protest against the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma.

Since his suspension late in 2021, Nkomazi has not been stable. Ngwenya belongs to the once-powerful Ngci faction. This is a faction of Deputy President David Mabuza’s loyalists, who have a burning desire to win the provincial conference scheduled for the end of February. However, their power has been waning.

Last year, Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane fired all Ngci-linked MECs from her Cabinet. This happened shortly after the Ngci faction removed her as the face of their campaign because she had fallen out with Mabuza.

A branch member who attended the Sunday meeting took a video and alleged that the ward 26 members were sent by their leadership “to kill us”.

Ngwenya has been accused of supporting wayward Nkomazi local municipality mayor Johan Mkhatshwa in remaining in his position in defiance of the ANC, which deployed another candidate to take over after the November 1 election.

Ntshalintshali said the group wanted to gatecrash the venue, but police and regional deployees intervened. “The meeting started, but bottles were thrown and there were gunshots as the members ran for cover. The three comrades who were shot were from ward 26,” she said.

She said:We request the police to bring the perpetrators to book. It’s against ANC policy to bring weapons into meetings.

DEATH AND LAWSUIT

In March 2020, Prince Manzini (45), a member of ward 22 in Gutshwa near Mbombela, died from injuries sustained during an assault at a branch meeting to nominate candidates for the provincial conference.

Manzini’s family is in a landmark civil claim against the ANC, demanding R65 million in damages.

Attendees at the meeting clashed when some people were allowed into the venue without having their identity documents scanned or signing the attendance register. These measures had been introduced to curb the manipulation and rigging of nomination processes, as well as the mushrooming of bogus branches.

At the said meeting, chairs were flung across the room and a fist fight broke out.

Manzini seemed to have been a marked man that day. He was accosted outside the hall by a mob of people who severely assaulted him as he was trying to flee. He died on the scene.

LONG-OVERDUE CONFERENCE

Since Mabuza was elected onto the national executive committee in 2017, the province has been unable to convene a conference. Provincial secretary Mandla Ndlovu has been acting Mpumalanga ANC chairperson.

Mabuza had been chairperson and premier since 2008. After 2017, no fewer than five provincial leaders raised their hands to lead the province. At present, there are three factions who may contest the conference.

Ndlovu’s Focus faction has shown its force lately and has placed its own candidates in municipalities since the November 1 election. Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane is also likely to contest. Former PEC member Peter Nyoni has announced his availability as well. The Ngci faction has fielded former Mpumalanga secretary Lucky Ndinisa as its chairperson candidate.

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