EFF MP Andile Mngxitama had to be escorted out of a hotel in Cape Town where he was to have held a press conference ahead of the state-of-the-nation address on Thursday.
The social media site, Twitter, was abuzz with posts about fights breaking out at the Cape Sun Hotel between Economic Freedom Fighters members and supporters of Mngxitama.
The EFF members refused to leave the venue and said they wanted to hear what Mngxitama had to say.
According to Mngxitama’s press alert sent earlier, the press briefing would clarify “why some of the EFF MP’s can’t sing #paybackthemoney”.
The EFF has vowed to disrupt President Jacob Zuma’s state-of-the-nation address unless a special sitting of the National Assembly is scheduled beforehand for him to answer questions about the upgrades to his private homestead at Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal.
Photos posted on Twitter showed Mngxitama being whisked away from the venue by his supporters.
Mngxitama later tweeted: “I’m alive. The press briefing shall happen today,” and “Thanks to those fighters who protected me against the uninformed fighters”.
He also confirmed to Sapa that the press conference would go ahead.
“Yes, I was assaulted. I will call another media briefing,” he said.
In an interview with news channel ANN7 after the incident, Mngxitama said people had learnt from the African National Congress to beat each other up for holding different views.
“We see political parties are at war because they do not want to hear the truth about themselves…. We’re going to break down this culture of being allergic to the truth,” he told the broadcaster.
EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said he expected the Mngxitama faction to take their seats in the National Assembly on Thursday evening.
“I think there will be no empty seats. I hope he will be there, he is paid to be there,” he said.
Ndlozi assured the media that his party was resolute that it would ask Zuma a question.
“Rest assured, the question will be asked.”
Referring to infighting in the EFF, he rejected notions that it would undermine the party.
“The EFF is here to stay. We are the government in waiting.”
Mngxitama has been at loggerheads with the party’s leadership following a tense elective conference in December.
He declined nomination and, during the conference, told Malema to “protect the revolution”. His “revolutionary consciousness” would not allow him to accept nomination, he said.
Last week, Mngxitama criticised the EFF for allowing convicted North West party leader Papiki Babuile to run the party from behind bars.
Babuile was recently convicted of the murder of African National Congress regional secretary David Chika in 2012. He is appealing against his 12-year sentence. SAPA