ANC stalwart Frank Chikane says the party’s 101 veterans will not be bullied into silence about the poor state of the governing party.
Chikane was responding to President Jacob Zuma’s criticism of the veterans when he delivered his opening address at the ANC national policy conference in Johannesburg.
“If they thought they could intimidate us into silence‚ they were wrong. We will not keep quiet. We have a role to play and we will play our role‚” said Chikane.
The former Director-General in the Presidency and Midrand branch member says the group of stalwarts has now decided to revive the ANC veterans league‚ in a bid to take its fight to save the party closer within internal structures.
He said the group of veterans had requested a meeting with top ANC officials to raise the matter in April and June‚ but both meetings had been cancelled without explanation.
However‚ it was Zuma’s comments on Friday in which he sought to cast doubts on the stalwarts’ credentials by referring to them as “so-called stalwarts” that pushed them to revive the Veterans League.
Chikane said they had already spoken to the leaders of the dormant league‚ who have been running the organisation for the past two to three years.
Zuma told delegates on Friday that the stalwarts had refused to attend the first two days of the policy conference‚ which were set aside for party introspection‚ because they felt branches were of a low quality. But Chikane refuted this.
“If that had been said by a member from the floor‚ it would not have meant much. But the president? He was asking us who we are. I am a member of a branch in Midrand‚ so he cannot ask me that. I am a longtime member of the ANC‚ as are my fellow stalwarts and veterans.”
“The reason we had called for a de-linked consultative conference was because we wanted the issues raised in our document to be discussed by the branches.
“There was no way we would have allowed ourselves to attend a conference and talk about things that have not been discussed by branches. That would have been an ambush‚” said Chikane.
As a former member of the ANC national executive committee (NEC)‚ he said he had enough experience to know that issues were actually generated and discussed at branches.
By Olebogeng Molatlhwa