Johannesburg - Umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe on Tuesday extended an olive branch to his rivals, apologised to ANC stalwarts, and pleaded for an end to public spats. It was not the usual militant Maphatsoe who addressed reporters. He had called a press briefing to justify the MKMVA’s conferring awards on several controversial figures.Among those who would receive awards for their role in transformation included former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng, former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe, SAA board chairperson Dudu Miyeni, and Sars commissioner Tom Moyane.The ANC previously berated Maphatsoe for calling a group of ANC veterans critical of President Jacob Zuma’s leadership “empty tins”.On Tuesday, he apologised to the veterans who had called for an ANC consultative conference to rebuild the party.Former MK member Tony Yengeni confronted him during the ANC’s national executive committee meeting last month, at which it was decided that the party would not ask Zuma to step down.“My comrade Tony Yengeni stood up in the NEC and said, 'comrade Kebby, you were wrong to say stalwarts are the empty tins and what what.' I said, 'comrade Tony, I thank you for what you have said'.“I apologise to the stalwarts who felt offended. I did not mean to hurt them,” Maphatsoe said.Maphatsoe is facing a revolt led by senior former members of the party’s liberation wing. He called on them to hold talks and to stop fighting in the media.Space for the enemy“If we disagree fine, but let’s not fight, it doesn’t assist. It does not unify MK, it does not unify the ANC, but creates space for the enemy to operate and divide us more.”Retired South African National Defence Force chief and former MK general Siphiwe Nyanda, Yengeni and former generals, including deputy ministers Thabang Makwetla and Bheki Cele, would hold a council meeting of former MK members on Saturday to discuss the state of the MKMVA and the ANC and the welfare of former combatants.This was seen as a direct challenge to Maphatsoe’s grip on the MKMVA, which they said was not speaking for all former members. Maphatsoe had written to all MKMVA members asking them not to attend the council. He said it was being held outside ANC structures and was contrary to an NEC decision to hold a “cadres’ assembly” for all former MK members before next year’s ANC policy conference.Maphatsoe described Nyanda, Cele, and Yengeni as “seniors he will always respect”.“They are the June 16 generation and we draw wisdom from them and there is no way, as this generation of young lions, we will undermine people who came before us in the armed struggle.”He said Makwetla had approached him about the planned council. Maphatsoe said they could not attend a meeting planned for last Monday because MKMVA officials were not available.It was however clear the council meeting did not have his blessing, as he repeatedly said they would wait for the “cadres’ assembly”.On August 23, Maphatsoe agreed to pay a R50 000 fine and apologise to former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils for accusing him of having orchestrated the rape charge against Zuma.