ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe has called on ANC stalwarts to lend their wisdom and experience to the party following a decision by the Supreme Court of Appeal to reject President Jacob Zuma’s spy tapes appeal.
Mantashe was addressing ANC stalwarts in Boksburg on Friday, where the party’s Veterans League is holding its second national elective conference.
He told veterans that, like in 2007 when corruption charges were first brought against Zuma, the party was now placed in a difficult position that needed the guidance of elders.
“We are back to that 2007 point now. What would you advise us to do? What do we do in this situation? Do we do what is fashionable to say Zuma must go now, or are we going to bring wisdom of managing this crisis point facing the movement?” Mantashe said.
“The veterans league must tell us how to deal with this situation. Can the December conference help us turn the corner and come out of it a better ANC?”
On Friday morning the SCA upheld the High Court judgment that a decision to drop corruption charges against the president was irrational.
However, when speaking to journalists following after address, Mantashe said the ANC was not immediately tasked with making a decision on Zuma, as the NPA had yet to decide whether or not it would charge him.
The veterans league, a structure for ANC members with more than 40 years uninterrupted service, houses some members of the 101 veterans initiative – a grouping that has been openly critical of Zuma.
Mantashe warned veterans that even they were not immune to factions that plagued the ANC. He called on veterans not to be “counter forces” but to be voices of reason within the movement. He said if veterans refrained from acting as a counter force, they would be best placed to handle the ANC’s succession process.
“Once ANC veterans are viewed as a counter force, everybody holds back. But if veterans have authority then everybody listens. Veterans should guide to say ‘you’re messing up here, this is how you should manage this process’. But if veterans don’t have that authority, then there’s a problem,” he said.
In July the ANC held its National Policy Conference which some veterans boycotted after they failed to secure the stand-alone consultative conference they had asked for. Mantashe said this decision was a mistake because “veterans and stalwarts of the ANC [effectively] said ‘there is a crisis but it’s not our crisis, it’s your crisis. We’re not going to be part of it’. That can’t be right.”