'Asmal welcome to engage'
Johannesburg - ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe on Friday warned against "self destruction" in a spat between former minister Kader Asmal and the MK Military Veterans Association (MKVA).
Mantashe said: "In line with ANC tradition, Comrade Kader is welcome to engage us on any issue. But I wish to warn that in taking on issues, self-destruction can bleed you to death."
Asmal was criticised by the ANC and the MKVA over comments he made at the Cape Town Press Club earlier this week.
Asmal said deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula's idea of "militarising" the police was "craziness" and smacked of "low level political decision making".
He also said he hoped he would not be alive to see Mbalula succeed in becoming the party's next secretary general, a position for which the former ANC Youth League president was reportedly lobbying.
The ANC described Asmal's comments as "unfortunate" while the MKVA "advised" him to "go to the nearest cemetery and die if that is the choice he had made".
"Kader Asmal cannot make statements as if he is the political god of the African National Congress and South Africa," the association said in a statement.
Mantashe observed with concern the "intense public debate" between Asmal and the MKVA and had held discussions with the military veterans to "find closure and bring clarity" on the matter.
"While we accept responsibility of ensuring that the younger generation of our movement should respect ANC veterans, we equally expect veterans to provide leadership on issues," he said.
The Congress of the People expressed shock at the MKVA's "disrespectful and inflammatory" comments aimed at Asmal.
"Professor Asmal is a veteran of the liberation movement and a world-respected scholar of constitutional law. He is an asset to the country and spent much time laying a solid constitutional foundation during the Codesa [Convention for a Democratic South Africa] negotiations," the party said in a statement.