Vets want checks for ANC leaders
As former MK fighters and commanders meet to plot the rescue of their party, Netshitenzhe calls for stringent appraisals of candidates
Candidates for senior ANC leadership positions must be thoroughly vetted in order to ensure that the party protects its political and ideological identity. This proposal was tabled by ANC national executive committee member Joel Netshitenzhe at the Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) Veteran’s National Council in Johannesburg yesterday. Netshitenzhe told the gathering, attended by 600 former fighters and commanders, that the party should also set up an electoral commission to do lifestyle audits on potential leadership candidates.
He said open campaigning by candidates, which was done in other liberation movements like Frelimo in Mozambique, protected the political and ideological identity of that entity or political party.
“If you do not do that, then you easily get captured,” said Netshitenzhe, who is one of the ANC’s leading thinkers and strategists.
He said it may well be that there was some form of ultrademocracy in the ANC, where anyone can get elected.
“Anyone can take over the ANC because there is nothing to protect its political and ideological identity,” said Netshitenzhe.
Unhappiness with President Jacob Zuma’s leadership of the ANC was palpable at the event at the Nasrec conference centre, despite the organisers cautioning that there was no “hidden agenda” to push for Zuma to step down.
General Siphiwe Nyanda, who was MK’s last chief of staff before the army’s disbandment on the eve of democracy, said even though their meeting was not officially sanctioned by the ANC, it was transparent and was intended to discuss the state of the party and the role of the veterans.
“Our efforts may be ignored or subverted, [and] the ANC will [then] surely die. But let it not be said that the ANC died without us trying to keep it alive and resuscitate it [to] bring it back to its former glory,” said the former head of the SA National Defence Force.
The group of MK veterans led by Nyanda have raised concerns about the ANC’s declining fortunes and were recruiting “real veterans” to reclaim its moral stature.
Their initiative has led to a clash with the MK Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) led by Kebby Maphatsoe.
Last week Maphatsoe urged his members not to attend yesterday’s event. Nyanda said Maphatsoe and other NEC members as well as ANC stalwarts had been invited to their meeting.
“Our activities are transparent, so it cannot be that anyone could ascribe sinister motives to the gathering,” he said.
Maphatsoe cried sabotage after the likes of Hlaudi Motsoeneng, Dudu Myeni and Tom Moyane and Brian Molefe failed to pitch at an MKMVA award ceremony on Thursday night, where these individuals were set to be honoured.
City Press learnt that there was a last-minute decision to ditch plans to honour the four with special recognition awards at the gala dinner.
Insiders said after consultations on the matter, it was decided that the leadership of MKMVA must completely abandon the planned move, as it shifted focus away from the real purpose of the event, namely to honour those who had fought in the trenches to liberate the country.
“They decided not to cloud the event, as more attention was already on the comrades who were never even part of the armed struggle. They were informed the decision has been overturned. There has been constant engagement with the ANC, it may have led to the decision,” said a source within the MKMVA.
However, Maphatsoe insisted that awards were the prerogative of the MKMVA and not the ANC. He said the reason that the awards had not been conferred was because only 31 of the 35 awards were ready in time. “The enemy is within but it will never defeat us,” he warned.
Maphatsoe blamed officials in the department of military veterans of being behind some of the award recipients not showing up.
“They told recipients if they went, they would be legitimising us. I know who those people are. For weeks and months we had preparatory meetings. The department pulled out on Wednesday. The treasurer [Des Van Rooyen] had to raise funds for that in a day as the companies were already on site.”
However, Maphatsoe’s deputy, Teenage Monama, has come out to distance himself from the event, saying he was not going to allow himself to be used by the Guptas, who also sponsored the event.
Meanwhile, Netshitenzhe said it was encouraging that the most sensitive of issues, including corruption and state capture, were now surfacing at formal discussions rather than just being whispered about in the corridors.
“It is the first step in correcting these issues,” said Netshitenzhe.
He said the “fiasco” last December had a silver lining – referring to the time when Zuma fired the finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him with Des Van Rooyen. He described it as “a lesson in economics 101 of all the limits of political power in a small, open economy”.
But Netshitenzhe said there was also “an element of hubris, which can only result in self-destruction”. He then referred to “strange things happening at Sars, the Hawks, the NPA and Denel”.
“It tells us that beneficiaries of corruption and state capture will not give up without a fight. We should internalise that, if only to come up with [solutions on] what to do,” Netshitenzhe said.
OPENLY DEFIANT Expo Centre General Siphiwe Nyanda at yesterday’s meeting of critical military veterans at Nasrec