ANC stalwarts take on the ANC

Balance: ANC Veterans’ League leader Snuki Zikalala says the elders will contribute to the ANC but won’t do its dirty work (Paul Botes, M&G)

Balance: ANC Veterans’ League leader Snuki Zikalala says the elders will contribute to the ANC but won’t do its dirty work (Paul Botes, M&G)

Newly elected ANC Veterans’ League president Snuki Zikalala has challenged the party’s national executive committee (NEC) to act on the problem of President Jacob Zuma and not to pass that responsibility on to the organisation’s elders.

This comes after secretary general Gwede Mantashe told the league the ANC would need its help after the Supreme Court of Appeal’s dismissal of Zuma’s application to appeal the so-called “spy tapes” high court ruling.

The league has also called for a change of the party’s electoral system to give the ANC’s one million members the right to vote directly for the party’s leaders.

Last week the league held its second elective conference in Boksburg, where Mantashe said the prospect of Zuma facing corruption charges took the ANC back to 2007, when he first faced the charges, and the party would need its elders to give direction on how to act.

Zikalala, said the elders would not be used to do the NEC’s dirty work.

“They must not throw that decision to us. They must do the right thing. Why are they afraid to do that? Why can’t they go through the Eye of the Needle [an ANC policy document]? The Eye of the Needle says openly ‘This is the kind of leader we want’. Why can’t the NEC go through ANC policies to say ‘this is what we said we’ll die for,’ ” Zikalala said.

“We are saying that no one is above the law. And so we are saying, if the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] has to prosecute, it has to prosecute, but the NEC must take that decision [on Zuma’s fate] because they are elected to do that.”

The ANC, at its national policy conference in July, discussed the possibility of implementing a “one-member, one-vote” system that would allow people to participate directly in the election of the party’s leaders. The proposal has been supported by the Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape, which believe it will eliminate the influence of factions on the outcome of elective conferences.

Zikalala said the league supported the proposal, which it also wanted to be implemented in making appointments to Parliament. “We are saying that we should change the ANC’s electoral system where, through branches, you’ll elect one person to go and serve you in Parliament. We are saying that every member must be able to cast his vote to say who he wants, and MPs must be responsible and accountable to their constituencies.”

Party elders believed the current system meant MPs were responsible to factions instead of to their constituencies.

“The public representation system is being corrupted and is being misused. It is a system that has allowed the ANC to ship in [former Eskom chief executive] Brian Molefe and ship him out without any accountability,” Zikalala said. “We are saying that MPs, when they leave Parliament, must go back to their constituencies and the constituency will hold them to task to say, ‘Why did you vote on this Bill?’ ‘Why didn’t you take the president to task?’ ”

The league will hold its consultative conference from November 17 to 19, at which it will consider the state of the party and adopt resolutions on how it might be able to correct itself.

This comes after some veterans boycotted the ANC’s policy conference in July because they were not allowed to hold the stand-alone consultative conference they had asked for.

They had also criticised the ANC’s leadership in the months preceding the policy conference.

At the league’s elective conference last week, Mantashe likened stalwarts to a “counterforce” in the party and accused them of distancing themselves from the ANC’s problems by boycotting the policy conference.

Zikalala said it was unfair of Mantashe to criticise veterans for raising valid concerns about the party. He believed that kind of attack on the veterans was an example of how little respect the ANC afforded its stalwarts.

In particular, Zikalala was unhappy that even the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA), which does not havevoting rights in the ANC, was afforded more respect than the veterans’ league.

“Let me state it clear here: MKMVA is a welfare organisation. It looks after the welfare of ex-combatants. It is not a constitutional structure of the ANC. It doesn’t have voting status. Now the veterans’ league is a constitutional structure of the ANC. It’s a council of elders — all ANC members who are 60 years of age [and older] and have 40 years uninterrupted service in the ANC,” he said. “These are people who have wisdom, these are people who are responsible for the constitution and the values of the ANC. The MKMVA is not that. But I don’t know why people take the MKMVA so seriously.”

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