Feb. 12 - South African police clash with stone throwing supporters of the ruling ANC, as members of the opposition Democratic Alliance party march in central Johannesburg. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) South African police clashed on Wednesday with stone throwing supporters of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) who tried to confront members of the opposition Democratic Alliance party as they marched in central Johannesburg. Thousands of supporters from both parties gathered in Johannesburg; the Democratic Alliance (DA) marched in what it said was a protest over high rates of unemployment in Africa's largest economy and the ANC marched to defend its headquarters in the city. Police, who were between the lines of the rival supporters, opened fire briefly at ANC members clad in the party's yellow T-shirts, a Reuters reporter said. A Reuters witness said police fired rubber bullets at the ANC supporters, while a Reuters cameraman captured a series of small blasts leaving trails of white smoke, believed to have been caused by stun grenades deployed by the police. Commentators have said the march by the DA, the country's biggest opposition party, was a deliberate provocation to goad ANC supporters into violence and highlight what it says is the party's intolerant nature. A spokesperson for the ANC, Jackson Mthembu, said that the DA shouldn't march on party offices and should take any protest they have against the ruling party's policies to the government. The incident is a sign of rising tensions in South Africa before general elections on May 7, which are seen as the biggest political test yet for President Jacob Zuma and his African National Congress, which has been in power for 20 years since the end of white apartheid rule. The ANC is expected to easily extended its two-decade rule but with a reduced majority. Millions of black South Africans remain mired in poverty and frustrated with the slow pace of change and economic transformation.