Some members of the ANC’s Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) were on Tuesday held hostage for over three hours by an angry crowd of ANC branch members at the ANC provincial offices off St George’s mall.
After an hour, of being holed up in their offices on the fourth and seventh floor of the Sahara Building in Thibault Square, one of the PEC members called out that he needed to use the toilet.
“Use a bucket,” was the answer thrown back at him.
In all, 150 ANC members from 16 provincial branches held six PEC members hostage in their offices over disagreements regarding the branch candidate lists.
Those held hostage included provincial secretary general Songezo Mjongile and Dullar Omar regional secretary Jay Tyhalisisu.
The angry ANC members, situated in pedestrian walkway outside the offices, the foyer and boardroom, sang protest songs and chanted insults against the PEC members.
The entrance door to the office of the ANC on the fourth floor was damaged when the angry crowd tried to force itself inside.
Shortly after midday, after about two hours of protests, police were called to calm the crowd.
The ANC branch members accused Mjongile and his executive committee of changing the candidate lists of city ward councillors provided by the branches for the upcoming local government elections, and putting forward their own list of preferred candidates.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) requires the lists be submitted by Friday this week.
Branches submitted their candidate lists earlier this month but upon receiving correspondence from the PEC notifying them who was standing for election, noticed candidates had been changed.
A meeting was called to resolve the situation last Thursday but proved fruitless, said branch member Amanda Mvana, who had attended the meeting. A follow up meeting for yesterday was called.
The atmosphere was tense from the beginning of the meeting scheduled for 11am, with branch members demanding answers from the PEC.
Things became uglier inside the boardroom when Jay Tyhalisisu told branch members, who were demanding to see the full complement of nine PEC members, that three PEC members were not answering their phones and were not in the building.
It emerged later that the three absent PEC members had been hiding elsewhere in the building.
The crowd demaded that Tyhalisisu phone ANC national secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, who in return told, Tyalisisu to deal with the matter at provincial level.
Branch members insulted Tyalisisu, accusing him of “being used by the DA”, and he was not allowed out of the overflowing boardroom.
A group of women blocked the exit doors an told him: “you are not going anywhere until we get the answers.”
The crowd demanded that the names of those they voted for at branch level be submitted to the IEC as those who would stand for election to councillor at the local government elections.
Once police arrived, Mjongile, who had been barricaded into his office on the fourth floor, was escorted to address the crowd in the boardroom.
However, he was shouted down and booed. The only message he could get across was that “there is an issue at hand and we are dealing with it”.
“We are dealing with this issue per branch because each branch has its own differences. We have been dealing with this issue for the past two weeks and we know what we are dealing with,” said Mjongile, before instructing journalists to leave the building.
“You are not ANC members, even if you are (ANC members), you are not here as an ANC members but as journalists.”
Mvana said she and other branch members were surprised that the list of candidates they submitted had been altered.
“We are not going to allow IEC officials to come in our ward if this situation is not solved. We demand that the name that we voted for be re-instated,” said Mvana.
“If they cannot reverse the situation there are not going to be elections in our wards,” she said.
Mvana said it was not the first time that names voted by branches have been put aside by the PEC.
Unathi Qoboloza, 45, from ward 37, said the gathering at the ANC provincial office was a follow-up to a meeting last week Thursday when an agreement was not reached about re-instating the names voted by branches.
Qboloza said they were told by Tyhalisisu that “a decision was going to be taken yesterday, hence the gathering and the taking hostage of the comrades”
The wards in which the candidate nomination has been changed includes wards 5, 6, 13, 16, 20, 33, 37, 39, 41, 42, 45, 75, 85, 87, 93 and 96. – Sandiso Phaliso, West Cape News