Delegates at a Gauteng ANC Women's League conference heckled provincial chairperson Paul Mashatile when he joined their event in Pretoria on Friday afternoon.
Mashatile, who is believed to be opposed to a second term for President Jacob Zuma, made hasty strides to the exit, shortly after he had entered the room and sat in front of the delegates.
The delegates burst into a chorus: “Mashatile, tsamaya! [SeSotho for 'leave']”, and the arts and culture minister scurried towards the side entrance.
Outside the room, Mashatile declined to comment on the incident. He held a brief meeting the leadership of the league.
Most of the delegates made chants suggesting their intention to have President Jacob Zuma re-elected as African National Congress president at the upcoming Mangaung elective conference.
Some were waving two raised fingers.
Soon after Mashatile left, the delegates united in singing Zuma's signature song, “Umshini wami”. Most songs that were sung at the event were in praise of Zuma.
Mashatile later returned to the room flanked by senior members of the league including provincial chair Patricia Chueu.
Chueu lectured delegates to observe discipline and respect other members of the party.
“Let us stop singing songs promoting people here. This conference is not about any individuals but the ANC, we must always remember that. We need to be disciplined at all times and respect the right of others to choose,” she said.
"Today we find ourselves divided and that is not healthy. The Bible tells us that we are one body of Christ. It is not healthy to find people fighting amongst one another,” said Chueu.
After she spoke, he took the podium and delegates listened quietly as he spoke.
"There are new tendencies that when we go to conferences we insult our leaders. There are no enemies. We are all children of the ANC," said Mashatile.
"That is the spirit that we should take to Mangaung. Respect and unity."
He added: "I don't believe that contest is disunity."
Delegates responded by noisily waving their hands with two fingers raised, the gesture believed to show support for a second term for Zuma, and singing pro-Zuma songs.
They also shouted, "Zuma, second term!"
The singing drowned out Mashatile's voice.
Women's League president Angie Motshekga, who received a resounding welcome, then stood up and tried to silence the crowd.
Mashatile stood on the podium, saying "Comrades, I am about to finish...", but was once again drowned out by the crowd.
He eventually joined in the singing, and danced on the podium as the delegates sang pro-Zuma songs.
After more than 20 minutes of singing, the delegates stopped and Mashatile went to sit down.
He did not finish his speech.
Mashatile earlier this month said at an ANCYL event: "We must renew our leadership and make sure when we elect leaders in Mangaung... we bring in the new generation of leaders...
"We need radical change so that in 18 years or 20 years of democracy our people can look back and say 'we have a better life'."