South African police foil ANC meeting bomb plot attended by President Jacob Zuma
Fringe group admits four members arrested over conspiracy
Monday 17 December 2012
South African police said today they had foiled a plot by suspected right-wing Afrikaner extremists targeting an African National Congress (ANC) conference attended by President Jacob Zuma and dozens of top government officials.
Four men aged between 40 and 50 were arrested on Sunday. A police spokesman said there was evidence they were planning acts around the country and not just at the ANC meeting in the central city of Bloemfontein.
The vast majority of South Africa's whites accepted the ANC's victory in the 1994 election that brought Nelson Mandela to power and ended decades of white-minority rule. However, a tiny handful continues to oppose the historic settlement.
"Their acts are widespread. We arrested them in different provinces," spokesman Billy Jones told Reuters.
ANC spokesman Keith Khoza said preliminary information suggested the men were planning to bomb the marquee where Zuma and 4,500 delegates are holding a five-day meeting to chose the ANC's leadership for the next five years.
"This would have been an act of terrorism that South Africa can ill afford," Khoza said.
The Federal Freedom Party (FFP), a fringe group fighting for self-determination for the white Afrikaner minority, confirmed two of those arrested were FFP members but denied any role in the suspected plot.
"We were not involved and do not associate ourselves with their actions," FFP national secretary Francois Cloete told Reuters.
In July, a former university lecturer was found guilty of orchestrating a 2002 plot to overthrow the ANC and assassinate Mandela - now 94 and receiving treatment in a Pretoria hospital for a lung infection.
There was a heavy security presence at the Bloemfontein meeting and the few vehicles being allowed onto the university campus hosting the event were being searched by police and sniffer dogs.
The conference is set to give Zuma a second mandate to lead the party and - given the ANC's dominance at the ballot box - another five-year term in 2014 as president of Africa's biggest economy.
Nominations for top party positions take place on Monday, with former union leader Cyril Ramaphosa, now South Africa's second-richest black businessman, well-placed to return to politics as Zuma's deputy.
Sources close to Ramaphosa, who has been out of front-line politics for the last decade, were confident he would win the vote for the ANC deputy president. Results of the internal election are expected on Tuesday.
"The numbers are in our favour and we are going for it," said one ANC official backing Ramaphosa. "It's almost a done deal. Cyril is going to be our next deputy president."
The ascension of Ramaphosa to a top ANC position is likely to be seen as a pro-business move by a party still deeply rooted in socialism, and may help assuage the fears of the ratings agencies that have recently downgraded South Africa.
Zuma's administration has been criticised for failing to overhaul a rigid labour market or fix a broken education system that is eroding the long-term competitiveness of Africa's biggest economy.
There are also concerns the ANC might push for new taxes for mining firms to help the government finance welfare spending for the millions of blacks who have seen few economic gains since the end of apartheid.
However, Deputy Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said the government would not be "reckless" in implementing new taxes. He also accused the ratings agencies of political meddling.
"There has actually been some level of unfairness because if you look at what was coming out of the ratings agencies, it was somewhat of an attempt to influence the outcome of the conference," he told a business forum on the sidelines of the ANC meeting.
- 1 VMAs 2015: Was Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus' awkward acceptance put-down real or staged?
- 2 If you're not already angry about the migrant crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 3 Rules on 5p plastic bags likely to lead to arguments at the check-out
- 4 Chaos breaks out in courtroom as father attacks killer of three-year-old daughter
- 5 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
VMAs 2015: Was Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus' awkward acceptance put-down real or staged?
Bank Holiday Monday opening times: Are Tesco, Asda and other supermarkets open today?
The nine most warmongering countries in the world revealed
Isis releases graphic video showing four Shia 'spies' being burned alive in Anbar, Iraq
Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique & exciting opp...
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...
£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...