ANC to come face to face with disenchanted veterans at policy conference

The ANC Top 6 - deputy secretary-general Jesse Duarte, secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, national chairman Baleka Mbethe, President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Cyril Ramphosa and treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize.
The ANC Top 6 – deputy secretary-general Jesse Duarte, secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, national chairman Baleka Mbethe, President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Cyril Ramphosa and treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize. Image: NEO GOBA

It will not be smooth sailing for the disenchanted so-called “101 ANC veterans” who have finally been granted an audience with the ANC at the upcoming national policy conference as they have a lot to answer for as well.

Following protracted calls for the ANC to engage them the party has set two days aside for national dialogue preceding the national policy conference.

It will not be smooth sailing for the disenchanted so-called “101 ANC veterans” who have finally been granted an audience with the ANC at the upcoming national policy conference as they have a lot to answer for as well. Following protracted calls for the ANC to engage them the party has set two days aside for national dialogue preceding the national policy conference.

KwaZulu-Natal ANC chair Sihle Zikalala says the vets have a lot to answer for as well.

However‚ some of them have opted to stay away from the engagement‚ TimesLIVE understands.

“I believe it will be a good platform. They must come. Whether we call it a forum‚ a consultative conference‚ or not. If it’s a consultative conference it will not have any constitutional standing above the NEC and the national conference‚” said Zikalala during the three-day KwaZulu-Natal policy conference‚ which wraps it’s business on Sunday.

The ANC veterans have been calling for a meeting for months to discuss the state of the party‚ and for President Jacob Zuma to step down.

They have lamented the state of the party in the last few months‚ and said the loss of support for the ANC in the local government elections in August had highlighted the crisis in the party and a need for intervention.

Zikalala said most of “these people who are part of 101” had last been seen in the ANC in 2007 in Polokwane. “Since then we have not been with them even during difficult times of election campaigns. And we must agree what determines the power in South Africa now is the performance of each organisation in the elections.”

“If they are saying the ANC is declining what is it that they have done to save the ANC? Where have they been for these past 10 years as they are emerging now?” asked Zikalala.

He accused some as being behind-the-scenes figures orchestrating “what we are seeing in the public”.

“They are part of all these shenanigans. Some of them have been part of the efforts that supported Cope and some of them have been part of embracing the people who left the ANC including the EFF. They are coming now to tell us there are challenges‚ yes there are challenges‚” he said.

Zikalala said nonetheless they have not lost their respect for them.

“We respect them as veterans. But let’s discuss all the issues not be selective. Let’s start from where we last interacted. Let’s start from Polokwane. Where have they been from Polokwane until now and we must address even their conduct in the ANC‚” said Zikalala.

So pressing has been the issue of the veterans that former president Thabo Mbeki even intervened and called on Zuma to meet with the veterans.

ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize confirmed on Friday‚ when he opened the PGC‚ that the first two days of the national policy conference will constitute a discussion to look at and diagnose the challenges facing the organisation and the state of the movement.

Mkhize said it was important for the ANC to reflect on its own challenges.

“One of the motivations that brought us to those days is interaction with the veterans. Unfortunately, some said they will not be part of those two days but that won’t change the structure of the day‚” said Mkhize.

The ANC policy conference starts later this week in Johannesburg.

BY NATHI OLIFANT TimesLIVE

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