MK council veterans boycott ANC’s national policy conference

MK council member General Siphiwe Nyanda. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

MK council member General Siphiwe Nyanda. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The MK Veterans National Council steering committee has confirmed its decision to boycott the ANC’s national policy conference after a failure to agree on the terms of a special consultative conference.

The MK council has also distanced itself from the MK Veterans Association (MKMVA) and its decision to hold a unilateral MK conference, defaulting on an agreement the two reached last month to hold a joint conference to promote unity among MK ranks.

During a briefing at the Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia on Tuesday, the organisation said the national policy conference starting on June 30 would not yield any tangible results towards fixing the state of the ANC if it wasn’t preceded by a quality consultative conference.

“We think that it will be a waste of time to attend that kind of event where they say they are just going to hear what the veterans and the stalwarts are saying and what MK council is saying about what troubles the ANC,” said MK council member General Siphiwe Nyanda.

Last year MK veterans and the ANC stalwarts called for the party to hold a special consultative conference for the purposes of introspection after its loss of support in the municipal elections. They called for the policy conference not to take place and to instead be replaced with a gathering aimed at organisational renewal.

Despite this, the ANC has decided to go ahead with the policy conference and has set aside two out of the six days for a consultative conference.

“We think that it is a fruitless exercise really. This thing [consultative conference] does not have a status that takes decisions.
A status that befits an occasion where people really introspect on the African National Congress and its future,” Nyanda said.

Boycotting the policy conference means the MK council won’t participate in the selection of MK delegates that will attend this gathering. This is also likely to influence the selection of voting delegates ahead of the December elective conference, where factions may have a greater chance of manipulating the selection of MK candidates who will support them.

Thabang Makwetla said this was a risk the MK Council was aware of, and would meet again in the coming weeks to decide on a way to ensure a proper elective conference.

“That is why we feel very strongly that a national consultative conference is very important in order to make sure the national [elective] conference is successful in dealing with the problems within the ANC, because it starts with the very process of preparing the entire constituency of the ANC,” said Makwetla.

“If [preparation] is not placed under the collective of comrades who can exercise the requisite integrity in managing that process, then the national [elective] conference is just going to be unfortunately a very disappointing exercise,” he said.

On plans to hold an all-inclusive MK conference to promote unity in the ranks of the military wing, the MK council said it had reached an agreement with ANC leaders who had appointed 10 national executive committee members to oversee organisation.

But even this inclusive gathering had been subject to disunity and disagreement after the MKMVA, led by Kebby Maphatsoe, pulled out of the joint conference and announced plans to have its own unilateral gathering.

The MKMVA is vocal in its support of President Jacob Zuma and has been criticised for being used in factional battles.

The MK council called on MK members to disassociate themselves from the MKMVA’s “intransigence and self-seeking motives”. MK council member General Enoch Mashaoala said despite the MKMVA’s actions, plans for a united conference would forge ahead.

“We are still committed to having a unified MK. We are still committed to ensuring that if current MKMVA leadership renege from what we had earlier agreed upon, that indeed we will ensure that we do have that inclusive conference representing detachments of former uMkhonto weSizwe,” he said.

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