Johannesburg – The ANC Youth League in Tshwane has vowed to lay charges of impersonation against #OccupyLuthuliHouse activists it claims were masquerading as ANC members.
Regional youth league leader Lesego Makhubela lashed out after the activists’ media briefing at the Court Classique Hotel in Pretoria ended in chaos on Friday.
The ANC Youth League’s Tshwane leaders, Lesego Makhubela, Ezra Letsoalo and Ratshi Mashamba, speak to police after stopping the media briefing by #OccupyLuthuliHouse activists. Picture: Oupa Mokoena. Credit: INDEPENDENT MEDIA
“Those doeks they were wearing belong to the ANC. The cloth they used was also ANC’s,” he said.
The #OccupyLuthuliHouse movement – an anti-Zuma grouping – was given an opportunity by the National Press Club to brief the media on its plans to lead a mass march to Luthuli House next week to demand the immediate resignations of President Jacob Zuma and the ANC’s national executive committee.
It also wants free education to be introduced immediately and the university fees commission to be disbanded.
The group of actvists from Joburg were five minutes into their briefing when leaders of the Tshwane ANC Youth League stormed in and brought proceedings to a halt.
Led by Makhubela, the youth league leaders said they were the custodians of ANC events in the capital.
The activists had no right to use their colours, they said.
“We are the youth league officials and we will not let anyone call briefings, willy nilly – not in our name,” Makhubela said.
He entered the room flanked by fellow youth league office-bearers Ratshi Mashamba and Ezra Letsoalo, and questioned the activists’ status.
If the activists were members of the ANC, they would have followed due processes in airing their grievances, the league members told the group.
They would have known that the Union Buildings was the place to go to in calling for the resignation of the president.
“This briefing is off. If you want a briefing you will organise it with genuine structures of the ANC, including the youth league,” Letsoalo said.
The league members grabbed the media microphones from the tables, handed them back to journalists, and bundled up the tablecloths.
They said the group could not speak on behalf of the ANC, and they would not allow such shenanigans to take place during their watch.
#OccupyLuthuliHouse activist Gugu Ndima had just outlined the demands to be highlighted by the group’s planned protest when the briefing was disrupted.
“We want stalwarts to lead a consultative conference for the renewal of the ANC,” she said, before the regional youth league leaders walked in.
Makhubela and company also launched an attack on the National Press Club.
“Who are these people? Can you explain to us, who are these people?” Makhubela said, after accusing the press club of not verifying the credentials of the people it had hosted.
The league trio said the press club provided a platform for opportunists, pop stars and celebrities. They accused journalists of working with the hotel to bring down the ANC.
“We are worried about this hotel,” said Makhubela.
“When Tshwane burnt it was this hotel that was used,” he added, referring to a meeting held before the local government elections at the Court Classique, at which a plan was allegedly discussed to make the city ungovernable.
“We need to check this particular hotel. What is its counter-revolutionary (role)? There are some activities that are happening in this hotel that are undermining the legitimacy of the ANC.”
The league trio then directed their anger at the journalists in the room, asking them why they had no respect for ANC policies and structures.
Press club executive committee member Jos Charle said the media provided a platform for different views.
The youth leaders responded: “As long as they speak against the ANC you come running – even hobos can call you and you come running.”
The groups in the room moved outside as the police arrived. A small crowd of ANC supporters had gathered outside the hotel grounds, but were denied entry. The gates were closed.
Access to and from the hotel was restricted for more than two hours as confrontations continued. The crowd outside sang Struggle songs in support of Zuma and the ANC.
The press club asked for protection from the police. The police declined, saying they were wary of civil claims.
“We do not want to remove a group and then be sued,” said a captain from the Sunnyside police station.
The disruptions continued as the youth league members prevented interviews from taking place and interjected during discussions between the press club, hotel management and the police.
Ndima said they would not give up their fight and would announce further plans.
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