On Friday, former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe made light of being the keynote speaker at the two-day Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) national council conference, organised by a parallel structure to the MK Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA), despite the fact that the ANC did not sanction the event.
“We have been invited and ... it is in our interest for the veterans to come together as one,” Motlanthe told City Press. And, he joked, “you can see there are no chairs flying”.
Among other ANC luminaries attending the event, held at Nasrec in Johannesburg, were Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, national council of provinces chairperson Thandi Modise, former social development minister Zola Skweyiya and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa said he had been cautioned that attending the MK council conference would be seen as factional. “My retort was that I have never been factional in my life.
I have always known and understood that the task of a leader is to do as much as possible to unite various views.”
Ramaphosa acknowledged Motlanthe, saying he was following in his footsteps because “his presence here does not mean he is factional”.
The more than 700 conference delegates heard speakers complain about the “bogus” conference in June, which saw Kebby Maphatsoe being elected the MKMVA’s president; about how President Jacob Zuma had been two-faced in endorsing that conference; and about how the ANC national working committee had insulted the ANC veterans and stalwarts, who had called for a national consultative conference to rescue the party from its loss of moral authority and electoral support.
On Friday, the conference resolved to “annul the bogus, illegitimate MKMVA conference” and wanted “charges pressed against those who embezzled ... by funding the now-annulled illegitimate conference” – including officials in the department of military veterans, which withdrew its funding for the council conference at the last minute, according to the council’s steering committee.
Steering committee member Siphiwe Nyanda said the decision to go ahead with that MKMVA conference appeared to be part of a plan to maintain the status quo in the ANC top leadership, and warned that some people might want to ensure that the December ANC conference, “where Zuma will step down and hand over to a new leader, would collapse”.
The conference’s commission on organisational renewal gave a damning report on the state of the ANC, saying the party’s branches were corrupt and “not dead, but sufficiently alive”.
The commission also noted that there was no political leadership: “The ANC is politically feeble compared with what we were at our peak.”
Delegates called for the ANC’s national executive committee to resign before December’s conference and for an interim committee to organise it.