The start of ANC branch general meetings in KwaZulu-Natal has been marred by tensions with reports of intimidation and gatekeeping. Party members in two regions have staged protests at party offices to vent their frustrations about the processes.
Guards brandishing firearms walking around with ANC branch members at a recent meeting had ANC members fuming. In this meeting, tensions rose when party members demanded that the guards be removed, citing – amongst other things – that they didn’t feel safe. On Thursday a mass march was staged by disgruntled members.
“At far north, we are at war against each other because of the BGM processes because the are violations of BGM processes, there are irregularities we have picked up from previous BGM that we are requesting the NEC to intervene,” one protestor told SABC News.
“This is an indication of how ANC members are being treated in the far north region where if person wants to take his own decision does so without being questioned,” added another.
Party leaders say security guards were hired by regional leaders to protect members attending those meetings.
KwaZulu-Natal ANC Provincial Secretary, Mdumiseni Ntuli, says security carrying firearms is a result of major disruptions.
“I know of one or two incidents in the far north region where we have seen people carrying rifles and firearms within premises of the ANC meeting and when I inquired to the regional leadership of the ANC I was made to understand that these people are security who have been arranged by ANC affected branches because of bad experiences over the past few weeks where they attempted to convene meeting and there would be major disruptions which are led by people who are not even residing in the branches that are holding the meetings,” says Ntuli.
Members have accused certain leaders of flouting the party’s constitution and claim the processes at branch meetings are flawed. The ANC provincial secretary says the ANC has streamlined the way members apply for and renew their membership of the party in a bid to prevent gatekeeping and manipulation of membership.
“The situation today is profoundly different from what happened in 2015, we now have a new membership system which has drastically minimised that possibility to get membership manipulated. We now have a system which permits each one of us to join the organisation without being registered by the branch secretary or the branch executive committee. We really do not think that the problem we are seeing today will be in any way closer with what we had to deal with in past year including 2015,” adds Ntuli.
He says members who have complaints about branch members can lodge complaints with the provincial leadership.
“Some of our comrades who are not happy with certain processes in the organisation but the PEC right from the beginning decided to appoint a provincial dispute resolution committee whose mandate is to ensure that we properly listen to every dispute and resolve those disputes consistently with the constitution of the ANC.”
Meanwhile, 13 party leaders in KZN have been requested to step aside in line with the party’s National Executive Committee’s (NEC) resolution.
However, it is not yet clear whether this remains viable amid a looming court battle over this.
ANC Secretary-General, Ace Magashule, is contesting the decision and wants it declared unconstitutional.
Levy Ndou gives insight into the latest developments within the governing ANC: