Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says ANC leaders are partly to blame for the widening divisions that exist within the uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA).
Ramaphosa was speaking on Saturday at a joint MK conference held by some MKMVA members and the MK National Council.
“As the leadership of the ANC we must accept that we have not taken up the challenge to unite the MK. In fact if we are to be honest, we have also contributed to the divisions that exist in the MK,” Ramaphosa said.
“This is the time for honesty, this is the time for truth and truth must be told if we are going to unite our movement and move forward”.
His comments come days after MK National Council member Thabang Makwetla told the Mail & Guardian that he believed president Jacob Zuma was to blame for emboldening current MKMVA president Kebby Maphatsoe who has been accused of using the MK for factional agendas.
“Things would have been much easier for us to deal with the problem decisively is the president had not positioned himself in a way that emboldens those who are doing all these funny things in the name of uMkhonto we Sizwe” Makwetla said.
The council has written to the ANC asking that it annul the results of a June elective conference where Maphatsoe was re-elected by more than 300 delegates who were allegedly not bonafide MK members.
While Zuma had given the opening address at that June conference, declaring his support for the MKMVA under Maphatsoe, on Saturday Ramaphosa expressed a similar view to a different grouping within MK.
He urged former combatants gathered at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg to use their principles of courage, discipline and political consciousness to help restore the ANC and rid it of factionalism.
“We need to speak out so we can correct the wrong things happening within our own ranks. We also need the courage to endure the insults and the ridicule and even the threats to own safety that come from challenging those who seek to perpetuate practices that have allowed our state to be captured,” Ramaphosa said.
MK veterans are expected to elect a new MKMVA leadership this weekend, while they wait for the ANC’s decision on a request to annul the results of the conference Maphatsoe held earlier in the year.
Ramaphosa gave another address in Hillbrow on Saturday, at the ANC Youth League’s 73rd anniversary celebrations.
Delegates sang “On your marks. Get set. We are ready for Ramaphosa” as the deputy president danced in front of a large banner that read “Cyril Ramaphosa for president”.
The celebrations were hosted by the Johannesburg region of the youth league which, unlike its national and KwaZulu-Natal structures, pledged support for Ramaphosa to become president.
The presidential hopeful told youth league members that it was in their best interests to actively work towards uniting the ANC, to avoid inheriting a broken party.
“Your task as the ANCYL must be to inherit an ANC that is united. You want to inherit an ANC that is in tact. An ANC that is powerful. An ANC that is the leader of society,” Ramaphosa said.
“It is your task as you see factions in our movement to rid our movement of factions. As you see disunity in our movement, to rid our movement of disunity. This is now the time for unity particularly as we are going to our 54th conference”.
He also told the youth league that he supported its calls for a youthful ANC leadership.
“We want you to show them that you as members of the ANC Youth League have the same attributes as Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo. That you have commitment. That you are there to serve the people of our country,” he said.