JOHANNESBURG – President Jacob Zuma has failed to uphold a commitment he made to the group of concerned long-standing African National Congress stalwarts and veterans regarding their request for a consultative conference, the group said on Saturday.
In a statement released to the media, the group of over 100 stalwarts and veterans said: “We remember and abide by the oath that every member of the ANC swears on joining, ‘…without motives of material advantage or personal gain’.”
The stalwarts said they had been loyal members of the ANC for many decades and their objective was to continue serving all the people of South Africa and ensure the historical values of the ANC were restored.
All of them were signatories to the document titled “For the sake of our future”. The signatories included all the remaining members of those imprisoned after the Rivonia treason trial, and the late Ahmed Kathrada was the first signatory of the document.
The stalwarts recently distributed to the media an open letter to the ANC national executive committee (NEC). This had also been sent to ANC secretary general (SG) Gwede Mantashe with a request that all members of the NEC should receive a copy so that it could be considered at this weekend’s NEC meeting, currently under way.
This was obviously to ensure that the letter was formally received by the members of the NEC from Mantashe’s office to avoid the situation that the letter was first brought to the attention of the NEC through media coverage, the statement said.
“At the time of the completion of this press release the stalwarts have not received confirmation from the SG that the open letter has been formally circulated to the members of the NEC.”
Last year, following a motivation from the stalwarts, the NEC agreed that a national consultative conference should be held. The ANC’s statement from that meeting said: “On the call for a consultative conference, the NEC resolved to extend by one extra day the national policy conference scheduled for the 30th June to the 5th July 2017. The first two days of the conference will be utilised to assess the state of the organisation as envisaged in the veteran’s call for a consultative conference. In that way, the policy conference is able to deal with issues that were raised as necessitating a consultative conference”.
The stalwarts said in the statement the responsibility for carrying out decisions of the NEC was the “top six” of the leadership – the president, deputy president, national chairperson, secretary general, deputy secretary general, and treasurer general; and the national working committee (NWC).
Immediately after the NEC decision the stalwarts formally asked that the decision to link the national consultative conference with the policy conference should be reconsidered. The primary reason for this request was to ensure that “… (the) issues that were raised as necessitating a consultative conference” could be adequately discussed within structures of the ANC, based on appropriate and relevant documentation, including ‘for the sake of our future’, both before and after the national consultative conference.
“There have been a number of meetings with members of the top six and with the NWC since the decision of the NEC. Some were acrimonious, with unfortunate accusations made against the stalwarts and attempts to deny the NEC ever made a decision on the national consultative conference. However, a commitment was received from the president at a meeting with the top six that the motivations put forward for the separation of the national consultative conference would be taken to the NWC and NEC for consideration.
“The commitment of the president has simply not happened and the stalwarts have continued to express concern that members of the NWC and NEC have not been adequately informed of the content of the discussions with their representatives,” the statement said.
The concern of the stalwarts was further increased when it was discovered that decisions relating to the form and content of the national consultative conference had already been made and circulated to structures of the ANC; despite the recent commitment at the first and only planning a session that these were issues for discussion.
This was basically why the stalwarts found it necessary to ask Mantashe to ensure the letter from the stalwarts was on the table at this weekend’s NEC. The stalwarts also believed the nation had a right to know, as failure to honestly confront the crisis could only lead to an increasing public perception that the present leadership of the ANC and its deployees in government were no longer legitimate representatives of the constitutional democracy that so many gave their lives for to achieve, the statement said.
African News Agency