Johannesburg – Attempts to address concerns over the current state of the ANC behind closed doors are simply not working, say the party's veterans.Some of the elders of the movement held a media briefing in Johannesburg on Thursday to announce that they were seeking an audience with President Jacob Zuma over their call for a consultative conference ahead of the party's 2017 elective conference.Several stalwarts have opted to go public with their worries over the ANC's leadership and the decline in support.The party lost three big metros in the 2016 municipal elections, with some voters in areas opting not to even participate in the polls."Some person or Johnny-come-lately in the struggle with not a shred of credibility like they have - Ahmed Kathrada, Thandi Rankwe and Barbara Masekela - can't tell them to please go register their complaints at a local branch," said one of the stalwarts, Cheryl Carolus.She was responding to criticism of their movement by ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe who said their negative comments painted a gloomy picture of the country. He had said it was better for them to keep their complaints behind closed doors.But the veterans say this approach is not working.Made tough by apartheid"Many of us in the group have at times, as individuals, other times as groups, attempted to address concerns quietly, discreetly behind closed doors but all efforts have been met with highly unsatisfactory and at times highly outrageous responses," said Carolus.She also called those insulting the group "amateurs" explaining that many in the room had not experienced the wrath of the apartheid regime through its actions but in how they were addressed on a regular basis. She jokingly added that they would have to do a lot more before they actually felt insulted.Just a week ago, another stalwart, Dennis Goldberg, told News24 he thought Mantashe was in a helpless position."He had an impossible task. Trying to hold together an organisation of people determined to abuse it for personal interest, and without the backing of the president to overcome that, he is more or less helpless," said the stalwart.Goldberg said all Mantashe could do was talk.Struggle hero and member of the class of 1976 Murphy Morobe also shared his thoughts on the challenges Mantashe might face because of the position he occupies in the party.Not anti-ANC move"People who hold office work to a job description and sometimes one can sympathise with them because it can be inflexible as to what to do when faced with conditions on the ground."He said one has to make decisions based on their own historical experiences to make what is hopefully a correct decision when situations unfold.However, he pointed out that some of the responses the group had received showed that some in the ANC had forgotten the basics of development and engagement."Our being here is us using every available resource at our disposal to give expression to the deeply felt experiences of these veterans," said Morobe.He told journalists that theirs was not an anti-ANC move but a proactive stance that will benefit the ANC and remind the party of how to apply democratic practices.