Security officials at the ANC's Eastern Cape elective conference were unable to stop supporters of outgoing chair Phumulo Masualle from forcing their way into the venue on Friday night.
Delegates dressed in white T shirts bearing the face of Oliver Tambo sang "we are strong" as they gained entry to the plenary hall at the International Convention Centre.
One ANC member told News24 that they planned to shut down the conference if they were not allowed to be part of the delegation.
"We are going inside whether they like it or not," the member said.
Police were then called to defuse the situation.
Early morning, on Sunday reports came in that a number of people had been hurt when violence broke out at the conference. Attendees tweeted the following videos.
Shortly before the interruption, Masualle had sung his own praises during his political report, saying that under his stewardship the provincial leadership had become the cause of envy in the party, as it had displayed unity.
"It's been truly an honour to have been afforded an opportunity to serve the organisation for this duration that has since come to an end. The collective I had the privilege to lead has sought to give their best to the assignment that was given. We did so as a united team until the end."
Masualle said the province needed to maintain unity like never before. He said without fail his provincial executive tried to inculcate the culture of unity right across the organisation.
The SACP's Eastern Cape secretary, Xolile Nqatha, however predicted that the province would head to the national conference more divided than before, because of the contestation between Masualle and his secretary Oscar Mabuyane.
"The ideal situation would have been continuity‚ which means retaining the current leadership as is‚ especially chair and secretary‚ which we thought was in the interest of the unity of the ANC and the alliance in the province. That is the view of the SACP," Nqatha said.
Nqatha added that the SACP was of the view that the province would be weaker going forward‚ especially towards the national elective conference in December.
ANC facing deepest crisis post 1994
Masualle advised delegates to use the provincial elective conference strategically as the party was facing its deepest crisis post 1994. Addressing the current problems faced by the provincial ANC Youth League, Masualle said its disbandment led to confusion and uncertainty in the province.
"They say an organisation that is dying, starts with the killing of the youth wing. By not caring for the youth, we make the tragedy of not minding the future. We should as conference, look to how we breathe and bring back life into this important entity of our movement, that which would provide us the necessary energy as well ability to be relevant in our times."
He said the alliance was a shadow of what it used to be.
"One wouldn't be mistaken for believing that it was no more."
Regaining lost ground
However, he also said the alliance was crucial in regaining lost ground following the party's massive losses during the local government elections.
He said the rise of urban centres has led to a drop for the ANC. "The question has to be asked, why do we enjoy less favour when service delivery has been achieved? I remember some comrades saying that all this expenditure wasted in areas that do not vote for us must be shifted to the rural areas because they vote for the organisation."
Masualle called the party's current leadership arrogant, complacent and ignorant. "There is a growing perception, [and] it's a fact," he said.
At the event on Friday evening, the resounding majority of delegates however sang in favour of Mabuyane. -- News24