South African police foil ANC meeting bomb plot attended by President Jacob Zuma

Fringe group admits four members arrested over conspiracy

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.

Reuters

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Sport
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Sport
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam