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

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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.

PHOTO: TEBOGO LETSIE

OPENLY DE­FI­ANT Expo Cen­tre Gen­eral Siphiwe Nyanda at yes­ter­day’s meet­ing of crit­i­cal mil­i­tary veter­ans at Nas­rec

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