UMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) president Kebby Maphatsoe has taken flak from MK members who want his election annulled.
Former combatants gathered at the Nasrec Expo centre on Friday for an inclusive conference held by some MKMVA members as well as the MK National Council.
Delegates were expected to take resolutions on the economic welfare of military veterans, discuss the state of the ANC as well as elect a new MKMVA leadership structure.
“Kebby doesn’t lead me, he leads a certain faction. He continues with this mission that he’s been given by his bosses to cause more divisions and more infighting among us,” an MK member told the conference.
Among ordinary MK members in attendance were Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu who gave an address on behalf of the ANC.
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe also attended the conference, urging MK veterans not to give up on efforts to fix the state of the ANC.
MK members criticised Maphatsoe for allowing the ANC’s military wing to become a tool used to boost factional agenda’s within the party.
They declared their support for the MK Council’s efforts to annul a June MKMVA conference where Maphatsoe was re-elected, allegedly under suspicious conditions.
The gathering heard that out of more than 900 delegates who voted an earlier MKMVA conference held at the Birchwood Hotel in June, more than 300 could allegedly not be traced as real MK members.
Dumisani Nduli who served as MKMVA general secretary before a different structure was elected in June told delegates how Maphatsoe had reneged on plans to unite the MK and allegedly rallied others to support him.
“There were some opposing voices who believed MKMVA made a mistake by agreeing to work with the national council. This group was largely comprised by members who had held a secret meeting at night organized by comrade Kebby Maphatsoe to caucus against working with the national council,” Nduli said.
“That conference was fraudulent and was held in contravention of the agreement by the leadership of MK National council and MKMVA,” said another MK member from the floor. “Let us take back our power to free our people from the claws of factional operatives who seek to use our hard earned freedom for personal gain,” the member said as others cheered.
But Maphatsoe has argued that he was elected fairly and that those who attended his gathering were bona fide MK members.
He believed his conference to be the legitimate one because it was opened by president Jacob Zuma who ledged his support for the activities of that weekend.
MK Nation Council leader General Siphiwe Nyanda urged delegates to deliberate deeply about the state of the ANC and ways in which the party could be revived.
“The question that we must ask ourselves is whether the ANC is in a better position today? I think the answer that I can almost read from all of you today is No. It is worse. The state of the ANC is deteriorating by the day,” Nyanda said.
“It is a very sad situation. The reality is that the centre cannot hold as the body count rises”.
Motlanthe also weighed in on the influence of MK members and reminded them not to tire in the fight for the ANC’s survival
“MK members are characterised by this never-ending spirit of remaining the harness of the struggle until the last day of their lives,” he said.
“And so your presence here is testimony to the fact that you remain in harness to ensure that the struggle of our people will continue under these new conditions”.