Johannesburg - ANC stalwart Mavuso Msimang has accused President Jacob Zuma and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe of telling ANC delegates attending the party’s 5th policy conference "shameful" lies about the 101 stalwarts.
"They both know that what they told the delegates to the conference and, through the media, the South African public at large, about the ANC stalwats and veterans, is patently untrue," Msimang told News 24.
Zuma and Mantashe took jabs at the stalwarts, accusing them of disregarding the role of the branches at the conference underway at Nasrec Expo Centre, south of Johannesburg.
Zuma refered to the stalwarts who were boycotting the conference as "so called leaders" during his opening address to the policy conference.
"They said they don’t think the quality of discussion here is at their level. They need serious discussion. These are the people who claim they have values and understanding of the ANC," Zuma said on Friday during his opening address to the conference.
Mantashe accused the stalwarts of wanting a consultative conference on their own terms and attempting to create an "alternative centre of authrority" to Luthuli house. The stalwarts have been engaging with the ANC leadership since last November, but talks collapsed ahead of the conference as they failed to agree on delinking the consultative conference with the policy conference. The ANC decided to instead dedicate two days of policy conference to discuss the state of the party.
"We could not agree on how we talk to the delegates, and said they (stalwarts) won't talk to delegates of poor quality, and they wanted to talk to ANC leadership. If you say branch delegates are of poor quality, you are blaming the victims," Mantashe said during a press conference on Thursday on the party's state of readiness for the policy conference.
Msimang said he was very disappointed by the statements.
“Neither of them will be able to produce a shred of evidence to support their shameful statements,” Msimang said.
The long-serving members of the party called for a consultative conference in an attempt to resolve the crisis facing the governing party. They first penned a petition titled for the "Sake of our future" which was signed by 101 stalwarts.
Msimang said they are still committed to a process of engagement with all ANC members including branches to ensure the ANC regains the “waning trust and confidence of the people of South Africa”.
The stalwarts are planning to hold their own consultative conference in September.
"Too much has been sacrificed by too many for us to remain silent about the wholesale plunder of the nation's resources that is aided and abetted by people claiming to act in the interests of the African National Congress," Msimang said.
The stalwarts had earlier called on Zuma to step down.