MKMVA faces possible disbandment

MKMVA members stand guard in Johannesburg. (Alon Skuy, Gallo Images, The TImes, file)
MKMVA members stand guard in Johannesburg. (Alon Skuy, Gallo Images, The TImes, file)

The future of Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) hangs in the balance, with the ANC's national executive committee (NEC) expected to discuss its fate when it meets this weekend.

News24 understands that the party's Peace and Stability sub-committee, which was tasked with investigating divisions between members of the ANC's former military wing, has recommended that the MKMVA be disbanded and fresh elections for positions, inclusive of all the factions, be held.

Divisions came to a head when senior MK members, including commanders, formed a counter group branded the MK Council in the lead up to the ANC's elective conference.

READ: MKMVA says ANC must speak out about Bosasa claims

The MK Council, which was led by former MK chief of staff and former SA National Defence Force (SANDF) chief Siphiwe Nyanda, questioned the legitimacy of MKMVA under its president Kebby Maphatsoe.

The two groups were expected to hold a joint elective conference last year, but MK Council abandoned the June conference, claiming it was attended by bogus members and said participating would be a futile exercise.

Controversial conference

Maphatsoe was re-elected to lead the MKMVA and the party's constitution was amended to change his position from chairperson to president.

The controversial conference took place under a dark cloud with Maphatsoe's then deputy Teenage Monama, general secretary Dumisani Nduli and his deputy Tshidiso Paka also distancing themselves from the event.

READ: MKMVA conference postponed

However Maphatsoe has previously defended the conference, arguing that bona fide members from its regions participated.

Maphatsoe is now facing a rebellion, with members of his MKMVA NEC unhappy with his "tactics" to try stop the disbandment.

While the NEC members blame the MK Council for their uncertain future, they have also accused Maphatsoe of not including them in meetings with the ANC officials, the peace and stability committee and national working committee.

"Peace and stability has only been meeting with the president - why meet with our president alone and not the entire legitimate structure?" MKMVA NEC and national working committee member Mabel Rweqana posed to News24.

She said the subcommittee had no right to restructure the association, referring to a possible disbandment as a "stupid decision" and unlawful, insisting the MKMVA's executive was elected by legitimate structures.

"What's wrong with the status of the MKMVA?" Rweqana continuously asked.

The NEC member claimed Nyanda and the deputy minister of justice and correctional services Thabang Makwetla were behind the move to dissolve the MKMVA.

"They are greedy, they are power mongers," claimed Rweqana.

'They want to lead'

She claimed the elder generation of the MK members just wanted to insert themselves in the organisation, insisting that they were refusing to be served by those who joined the ANC's liberation army at a later stage.

"They cannot disband us. This is just about Nyanda and Makwetla who want to impose themselves on us. They want to lead," Rweqana said.

She also took issue with the peace and stability subcommittee, which is led by Tony Yengeni. She questioned how Yengeni, who is part of the MK Council, could decide on the MKMVA's fate.

"Peace and stability members are part of the MK Council - that can't be fair," she said, adding that they would fight the decision to disband if the ANC's NEC decides to endorse it.

Another MKMVA NEC member argued that the MK Council was just an "intervention" group and could not be compared with MKMVA, which has been in existence for years.

Nyanda laughed at the claim that they were refusing to be led by young people, telling News24: "But we are led by young people in the ANC."

He said the MK Council has always maintained that the June 2017 MKMVA conference was illegitimate and has not shifted from that position.

"We have always rejected the legitimacy of that leadership. They held a fraudulent conference and it was in defiance of the NEC," said Nyanda.

It is also understood that some of the provinces have also questioned how Maphatsoe has handled the matter.

Last-ditch effort

Maphatsoe told News24 he was aware of unhappiness within MKMVA's senior and junior ranks.

"The comrades are correct indeed there is that view that MKMVA should be disbanded, they are correct to have reservation about me," Maphatsoe said.

He claimed the South African National Military Veterans Association (SANMVA) has refused to fund them making it impossible for them to hold NEC meetings.

"We think they are involved in this factional battle for MKMVA to be disbanded because some of the officials of SANMVA were the ones who worked against our successful conference held in June - they're punishing us and they are pinning their hopes on NEC to disband us," he said.

Maphatsoe said he was meeting with the national working committee on Friday morning, which was seen as a last-ditch effort ahead of the NEC starting in the afternoon to try and save the MKMVA.

"We have been told that the NWC wants to meet us tomorrow [Friday] morning, we will hear what NWC is saying and we will present our case to them like we did to officials and to the peace and stability committee.

"We don't believe the reasons to disband us are convincing but let's leave it for the meeting because we don't know what the NWC will say," Mapatsoe said.

When Yengeni was asked for comment, he told News24: "I do not comment on internal ANC matters."

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