Port Elizabeth – The conflict over ANC councillor lists has not ended, as deputy minister of agriculture and ANC national executive committee member Bheki Cele discovered when he was forced to desert his national door-to-door campaign after chaos erupted in the disputed Ward 22 in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality last week.
The disgruntled ANC members in that ward put paid to Cele and his delegation’s canvassing efforts almost as soon as they started.
Cele arrived at Daku Hall in KwaZakhele on Thursday morning, escorted by a fleet of hired cars transporting provincial executive committee member Andile Lungisa and other ANC deployees.
Residents had vowed that no ANC electioneering would take place in their ward, but other parties would be allowed to do their political work.
True to their word, when Cele’s delegation started its door-to-door campaign, the disgruntled ANC group followed in a bakkie, which was soon abandoned when the vehicle got stuck in a traffic jam.
They jumped off and walked along the designated door-to-door route, assaulting fellow ANC members who were engaged in campaign efforts.
All electioneering material was taken from the campaigners, some of whom were volunteers, and was torn and thrown into the streets.
The angry group quickly spread across the ward, attacking other volunteers.
A car carrying ANC delegates was pelted with stones, resulting in a damaged windscreen. The vehicle belonged to a member of the ward’s screening committee, Nonzwakazi Wewe, who supports the candidate that the ANC has chosen as its official candidate for Ward 22.
Businessman Sinoxolo Gongxeka, who was part of Cele’s delegation and was busy campaigning, was assaulted and had his laptop containing his ANC reports stolen.
“I was just doing my work here. I have been a member of the ANC for a long time and I run a strong business. They took my laptop and documents,” said Gongxeka.
He was at pains to point out that not having his laptop meant he would be unable to submit the work he had done on behalf of the ANC.
Police were deployed to calm the volatile situation.
Lungisa was also caught up in the forced removals as he drove into the hotspot.
Angry fists banged against his car window and he was told that he was not welcome to continue canvassing.
He and his passengers were stuck in his car for a while, until police moved in to clear the way for him to leave the area.
“We told them that they were not welcome here,” said a furious resident. “They have chosen to bring people from other wards to challenge us.”
After the dust had settled, Lungisa engaged the two groups – volunteers and ward residents – separately.
Speaking to City Press, he said that all disputes had been resolved.
“We are now marching in a united front and the comrades are standing firmly in support of the ANC candidate, Nqabakazi Zuma,” said Lungisa.
He denied that Cele was scheduled to be part of the door-to-door campaign, saying he was only there to provide motivation.