DRAMA erupted in villages around Alice on Friday when ANC members attempted to stop local youth from signing up to take part in a government learnership programme.
The drama unfolded in Upper Gqumashe, Golf Course, Lower Gqumashe and Dyamala villages.
When journalists arrived on the scene in Upper Gqumashe, ANC members ran away and locked themselves in a house – but not before tossing buckets of dirty water at a Dispatch photographer and also the youth who were being denied participation in the programme.
“We don’t care, the ANC won’t do anything about us. We are defending the struggle. Just leave before we call the police,” one ANC member shouted from behind a closed door.
In recent weeks unemployed youth in the Nkonkobe region had been invited to sign up for a Nkonkobe Youth Imbizo that will take place at the University of Fort Hare’s (UFH) Alice campus this Friday. The imbizo will involve a number of government departments and all Skills Education Training Authorities (Setas), which will offer some opportunities for learnerships and other skills.
Since last month, community meetings have been held in all 158 villages in the Nkonkobe region, calling for all unemployed youth to be part of the coming imbizo.
But it appears that the event was hijacked in some villages.
One of the youth, Amanda Mabandla said she was told by a known ANC member, “it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and if I want to be part of the programme I must join the youth wing (ANC Youth League).
“I refused to join and he refused to put my name and ID number on the list,” Mabandla said.
Lindikhaya Dywili , who was also told to sign up said: “We seem to be having no choice, this ANC rules and we just have to follow what they do. I was told that they are the ones who are coming up with these opportunities,” he said.
Neliswa Baliso from Upper Gqumashe said she decided to blow the whistle because many youth were being denied participation in an event that was supposed to be to the benefit of all, purely because they were not seen as being in the inner circles of the local ANC Youth League.
“We are forced by these ANC people to join their youth wing to qualify for the learnerships,” said Baliso.
Seta consultant Vicky Nkomana , who is organising the imbizo this weekend, said she had been shocked to learn that some youth were being prevented from having the opportunity to be part of the coming event.
“This is shocking. Different Setas will be (at the Alice campus) this Friday to give support to the youth. There is no way that it is politically linked. We don’t look at one’s political affiliation for one to be part of this.
“Those who are (stopping all youth from participating) are killing this programme,” Nkomana said.
A number of community leaders were approached by Nkomana to identify young people who might be suitable to take part in the learnership.
But some people who were tasked to do the job took the opportunity to convince the youth to be part of the ANC Youth League to be considered for learnerships.
The Dispatch accompanied some youths who tried to sign up with Nomsingathi Makapela .
She refused to sign them up for the programme “saying you must come with your money” (R12 to sign up for the ANCYL). She also refused to sign up two others saying “these two must go, they are Cope members”.
With her were three other ANC members, Nontathu Myoli, Thembisa Mantambo and India Nzoyi.
When the Dispatch returned a second time to confront Makapela and two others, they ran away and locked themselves in Makapela’s house.
Mantambo said she did not report to the Dispatch. “You are not ANC and I am not reporting to you. Whatever I do is not for you to write about,” she said.
ANC sub-region secretary and Nkonkobe Municipality Speaker, Joe Ndlebe said: “ As the ANC in this region we distance ourselves from this.” — By BONGANI FUZILE, Crime Reporter, firstname.lastname@example.org