ANC tells veter­ans: For­get it

CityPress - - News - SE­TUMO STONE se­tumo.stone@city­press.co.za

ANC lead­ers used a meet­ing with party veter­ans to tell them that they would not be get­ting a spe­cial con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence as promised ear­lier and that their crit­i­cism of the party was ex­ag­ger­ated.

The veter­ans were rep­ri­manded for be­ing too harsh on the cur­rent party lead­er­ship and were re­minded that Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive had done ster­ling work to re­gain lost ground since the out­come of the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions in Au­gust last year.

Mem­bers of the na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee also in­di­cated to the veter­ans that the re­cent by-elec­tions that the ANC won demon­strated that the party was “on the path to re­cov­ery”.

The meet­ing, at­tended by Zuma, party chair­per­son Baleka Mbete, trea­surer-gen­eral Zweli Mkhize and deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral Jessie Duarte, also made it clear that the con­cerned groups’ pro­posed na­tional con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence was dead and buried.

The group con­sisted of ANC el­ders, former lead­ers and mil­i­tary veter­ans. They had pro­posed a na­tional con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence to res­cue the ANC from a deep­en­ing cri­sis. They blamed poor lead­er­ship for the ero­sion of the ANC’s elec­toral sup­port, say­ing the re­sults pointed “to the fright­en­ing prospect of the po­ten­tial demise of the ANC”. On Mon­day, the ANC would have none of it. “So that there’s no con­fu­sion,” ANC Women’s League sec­re­tary-gen­eral Meokgo Matuba told the el­ders, “the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive and the work­ing com­mit­tee never at any stage agreed to hold a na­tional con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence”.

“What was agreed upon was to set aside two days be­fore the pol­icy con­fer­ence to dis­cuss the is­sues raised by the stal­warts,” said Matuba, ac­cord­ing to min­utes of the meet­ing. She was sec­onded by Sports Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula and State Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter David Mahlobo.

The ANC had agreed to ex­tend its up­com­ing June pol­icy con­fer­ence by two days to ac­com­mo­date the dis­grun­tled group’s pro­posal.

The con­cerned group sub­se­quently re­quested that the pol­icy con­fer­ence be sep­a­rated from the con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence – which would then be held at an ear­lier date.

ANC Youth League pres­i­dent Collin Maine re­minded the el­ders that the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive was the high­est de­ci­sion­mak­ing body in be­tween con­fer­ences and that once it had taken a de­ci­sion, ev­ery­body was ex­pected to toe the line. “There will be no delink­ing of the na­tional con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence from the pol­icy con­fer­ence,” Maine is quoted in the min­utes.

Maine fur­ther told the con­cerned el­ders that “there is nowhere in the Con­sti­tu­tion where pro­vi­sion is made for a na­tional con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence”.

Only two mem­bers of the com­mit­tee, which in­cluded De­fence Min­is­ter No­siviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, dif­fered from their col­leagues, say­ing that the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee had agreed to a na­tional con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence.

Zuma, who at the last meet­ing with veter­ans and stal­warts on Jan­uary 16 promised that he would send their re­quest back to the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive for re­view, no longer men­tioned his com­mit­ment and in­stead spoke of a joint prepara­tory com­mit­tee con­sist­ing of three mem­bers who would pre­pare for the two-day meet­ing, “what­ever you call them”.

Zuma said that, since the con­cerned groups came into ex­is­tence as ve­hi­cles to en­gage the party lead­er­ship, the es­tab­lish­ment of the prepara­tory com­mit­tee would ren­der these struc­tures ob­so­lete and they would dis­band as they would had ful­filled their mis­sion.

How­ever, the veter­ans and stal­warts left the Mon­day meet­ing on the verge of pulling out of the planned ex­tended pol­icy con­fer­ence as it be­came clearer that their pro­pos­als would not be ap­proved.

City Press has seen mes­sages ex­changed be­tween dis­grun­tled mem­bers of the group. Those veter­ans who still hold a view that the Zuma ex­ec­u­tive could be “per­suaded by rea­son” were told by oth­ers to ac­cept that “there is no way of sav­ing the ANC and the coun­try un­der the cur­rent lead­er­ship”.

A mem­ber of the stal­warts group, Omry Mak­goale, told City Press that “those who are apol­o­gists say we should par­tic­i­pate. But it would not help and it would be a fruit­less ef­fort, be­cause the pol­icy con­fer­ence would be at­tended by the same slate that at­tended the 2012 Man­gaung na­tional con­fer­ence [when Zuma was elected for a sec­ond term].”

The veter­ans’ leader, Siphiwe Nyanda, said it was “as if is­sues that con­cern us do not con­cern the ANC”.

“It is like they are ac­com­mo­dat­ing us to come along, but they do not be­lieve it is im­por­tant that we have this na­tional con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence,” said Nyanda, re­fer­ring to the ANC’s po­si­tion that the is­sues the veter­ans wanted to raise at a na­tional con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence would be dealt with in the two days al­lo­cated at the start of the pol­icy con­fer­ence.

He said: “I am not happy; there is a re­luc­tance on the part of the present lead­er­ship to at­tend to these mat­ters that af­fect the ANC.”

Zuma, ac­cord­ing to Nyanda, said at the last meet­ing that he would “go back to the ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee and check if they could find it within them­selves to ac­com­mo­date our views”.

“We were asked for rea­sons ... and as far as we were con­cerned, we had given them valid views that the ear­lier we had an un­der­stand­ing about the chal­lenges fac­ing us, the bet­ter.”

Nyanda said the veter­ans and stal­warts col­lec­tive would soon meet to map a way for­ward, and he was per­son­ally not con­vinced that the ANC’s pro­posed ar­range­ment would be help­ful.

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