As the ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting dragged on behind closed doors at the St George Hotel in Irene, Tshwane, this weekend, sentiment was building inside the party that the dissolution of party structures is becoming “a programme of the post-Nasrec leadership”.
ANC insiders told City Press that the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) was the latest ANC structure to have its future debated during an ANC national working committee meeting on Friday, ahead of the bigger NEC gathering that followed.
The working committee prepares the agenda for the NEC, which is scheduled to provide a final decision on the matters under discussion when it concludes today.
The MKMVA and the MK National Council competed for legitimacy going into the ANC’s national elective conference in December in Nasrec, and were neatly divided along the lines of those who supported former president Jacob Zuma and those who supported his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa.
Zuma endorsed the MKMVA national conference in June in Boksburg, but others in Luthuli House wanted a more representative structure.
Efforts to forge unity fell flat, and this weekend’s NEC discussions were likely to thrust the matter back into the spotlight.
A high-ranking ANC leader told City Press yesterday: “But, really, are disbandments the programme of this NEC? In the last NEC, they disbanded North West and now, in this one, they are discussing the disbandment of the MKMVA.”
Those close to the MKMVA threatened legal action if the NEC agreed with those who wanted the structure to be scrapped.
The association had been “restrained” since Nasrec and had not become involved in political squabbles, but “if it is dissolved, we will fight back”.
City Press learnt that Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor made a critical intervention during the discussions, indicating that there were no strong legal grounds to disband the MKMVA, so the best option was to seek a political solution.
Among those mentioned as proponents of the push to oust MKMVA leaders was Tony Yengeni, who could not be reached for comment.
Complaints against ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule were also expected to take centre stage at the meeting, including regarding his handling of matters in North West, the alleged plot against Ramaphosa – involving Zuma – as well as the appointment of an integrity committee.
But his sympathisers were optimistic that plans to oust Magashule on the basis of the plot allegation, which could deal a devastating blow to his political career, would fail.
“How do you prove that there is a plot? They must give us the recordings if they have them,” one of his supporters said.
On Friday, Magashule mentioned that he would be reporting to the NEC on the status of the planned ANC Youth League conference. He did not mention the status of the MKMVA.
Another contentious discussion expected to take place this weekend was about the control of the election list conferences, particularly in North West, the Free State and Mpumalanga, where disgruntled members did not recognise the provincial leadership in charge.
In the Free State, a group of anti-Magashule ANC members, who were taking the party to court in a dispute regarding the legitimacy of the provincial executive committee, said that they met with Free State NEC convener Siyabonga Cwele on the sidelines of the NEC on Friday night to discuss a proposal on a way forward.
They said that they wanted the NEC to discuss the proposal, which is aimed at ending the feuds in the province.
If the proposals were favourably considered, the court application to disband the Free State provincial executive committee would be halted, said a source.
The document proposed an integrated leadership in the party and government, an outreach programme to all branches and communities, political education and a unity campaign.
“The situation has reached crisis proportions, and needs an urgent, committed and systematic approach meant to heal the province,” the proposal read.
The group anticipated that a process similar to that in North West – where a provincial task team was appointed – could be the solution.
City Press could not verify whether the issue was raised during the NEC meeting.