Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa
Using violence and approaching the courts cannot be seen as ways to resolve disputes within the African National Congress (ANC), deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.
"Last night when I saw chairs flying - a festival of chairs.... I immediately said there must be people injured and I wanted to go to hospital," he said at the conclusion of the fractious and violent ANC Eastern Cape provincial elective conference in East London.
While on the way to hospital, he said he was told that the eight injured had eventually been discharged
Ramaphosa said scenes from Sunday morning's plenary was something the ANC must be deeply ashamed of.
"This is not the behaviour that is expected of members of the ANC. As the ANC we have got to condemn violence as a method of addressing our differences and [the] disputes amongst us."
Violence erupted at the conference in the early hours of the morning on Sunday, during the adoption of delegates' credentials.
Seven delegates were taken to hospital and one was wheeled out of the conference venue in a stretcher. Footage obtained by News24, showed delegates throwing chairs at each other.
This came after members disrupted events on Friday night, while others who attempted to storm the venue on Saturday night had to be dispersed with stun grenades.
Ramaphosa said the Eastern Cape needed to lead by example as it was a province of "legends".
He discouraged the use of courts of law to resolve party disputes.
"I say this because when there are problems and divisions amongst us, its always best that we sit down and talk about our differences, rather than rush to court or resort to violence".
The party’s National Executive Committee was working towards resolving problems faced by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial leadership, he said.
Several ANC KZN members took their Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) to court to challenge the validity of the 2015 elective conference. The Pietermaritzburg High Court found the conference, and the election of the PEC unlawful.
The KZN PEC is currently appealing the judgement.
Shortly after the Eastern Cape conference elected Oscar Mabuyane as chair, an application was filed with the High Court sitting in East London to have the recent conference interdicted.
Judgment in that matter is expected to be handed down on Monday morning. Ramaphosa told Mabuyane that he now needed to work with the newly elected PEC to unite the organisation in the province.
"We must avoid a situation where we emerge divided following a conference." He said leaving the situation in the KZN to fester was the NEC’s biggest regret.
To prevent the same situation from occurring in the Eastern Cape, he said NEC delegates will come back to the province in an attempt to resolve divisions.
“We took too long to address the problems and the challenges in KZN. I want to avoid them here. I want us to act immediately. The NEC is going to get stuck in here to resolve the problems and heal the wounds.”
During his first address as chairperson Mabuyane apologised to Ramaphosa for the violence, promising that it would not happen again in the province. He said it was difficult to understand claims of bogus delegates when NEC members spent most of the day on Saturday ensuring that only accredited delegates gained entry.
"The ANC must not allow people who want to change the ANC to something else. If you are elected in the ANC you are elected for a specific term. When that term comes to an end don’t make the ANC people feel bad for electing others."