Police foil ANC meeting bomb plot
South African police have foiled a plot by suspected right-wing Afrikaner extremists to bomb a marquee at an ANC conference attended by President Jacob Zuma and dozens of top government officials.
A police statement released on Monday said four men aged between 40 and 50 were arrested on Sunday.
The statement gave few other details, but national police spokesman Phuti Setati said they had been planning to plant a bomb in one of the tents at the ANC conference being held in the central city of Bloemfontein.
The Federal Freedom Party (FFP), a fringe group fighting for self-determination for South Africa’s 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.
More than 4 500 people, including Zuma and dozens of ministers and top business people, are attending the five-day conference in Bloemfontein under a heavy police presence.
The few vehicles being allowed onto the university campus hosting the meeting were being searched by police and sniffer dogs.
“This would have been an act of terrorism that South Africa can ill afford,” ANC spokesman Keith Khoza said.
The vast majority of South Africa’s whites accepted the ANC’s victory in the 1994 election that ended decades of white-minority rule and brought Nelson Mandela to power.
However, a tiny handful continues to oppose the historic settlement.
In July, a former university lecturer was found guilty of orchestrating a 2002 plot to assassinate Mandela, overthrow the ANC and drive South Africa’s black majority out of the country.
The ANC 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 position. 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.”