Chaos erupted on Friday night at the KwaZulu-Natal ANC provincial conference after organisers went ahead with a consultative meeting instead of an elective conference.
The highly anticipated elective conference had been halted by the high court in Pietermaritzburg earlier in the day.
ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe — the keynote speaker at the meeting — was heckled and drowned out by angry members, who sang songs in support of recalled president Jacob Zuma.
They also refused to allow ANC provincial task team (PTT) convener Mike Mabuyakhulu — who coordinated President Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign last December — to address them.
Video footage shows Mantashe being drowned out as he accuses the crowd of factionalism. Zikalala tries to intervene, but the heckling and singing continue until Mantashe leaves the podium. Zikalala then continues to address the meeting.
Earlier on Friday, the high court in Pietermaritzburg granted an interim order halting the re-run of the November 2015 elective conference, which had itself been declared unlawful by the court last September. The PTT had replaced the disbanded provincial executive committee and had set up the conference, deciding to go ahead despite disputes from branches in the Moses Mabhida region and several others.
On Wednesday the PTT and members of the national executive committee (NEC) met with the branch representatives in Pietermaritzburg, but rejected their complaints and decided to push ahead with the conference.
The aggrieved members then went to the High Court, arguing that they had presented evidence of irregularities which had been ignored. They managed to convince the court that proceeding without their grievances being properly addressed would generate a tainted conference outcome. The matter was adjourned until July 7.
Organisers decided to then convert the meeting into a consultative conference, but had to abandon the meeting, held at the University of Zululand, with supporters of Mabuyakhulu and Ramaphosa walking out.
“They refused to let Gwede address them. They refused to let Mike talk,” said a Ramaphosa supporter.
“They only allowed Sihle to speak. This was pure factionalism, aimed at causing more chaos.”
“They were not supposed to proceed with any conference. They were supposed to send delegates home and go back to court. Instead they wanted to embarrass Gwede… The meeting was then abandoned,” he said.