Zuma says ANC veterans calling for him to step down not as strong as they think
African National Congress president Jacob Zuma has broken his silence and taken a swipe at his predecessor‚ Thabo Mbeki‚ and party stalwarts who have called for him to step down‚ labelling them as weak individuals who think they are strong.
“They think they have got power and everything. In fact‚ one of the comrades who thought I was not meeting these comrades wrote me a letter and said these comrades are more important than us elected [leadership] because our job is just to do administration work.
“I think I’d be wrong to not say this because many of us have controlled ourselves not to respond to these comrades because we know that some of them are not as strong as they project themselves‚” said Zuma.
“They (veterans) told the SG (secretary general Gwede Mantashe) that they don’t think the quality of the discussion here is going to be at the [level] and that is why they can tell the president that he is wrong‚” said Zuma.
Zuma made the remarks at the party’s 5th national policy conference at Nasrec‚ south of Johannesburg which commenced on Friday.
Last year‚ Mbeki told Zuma through an open letter that he should hold talks with the veterans who have been critical of his leadership. Mbeki said the 101 party veterans were a “very senior‚ outstanding and historic echelon” who had ensured the party’s survival and who deserved the national executive committee’s respect. Mbeki criticised the ANC for trying to resolve their concerns “administratively“.
He also criticised the current national executive committee for insisting that the veterans should speak out only through ANC branches‚ the veterans’ league‚ or other party structures.
The six-day policy conference is designed to encourage mass participation in shaping the direction the party and the government takes.
Zuma said the reason why the conference was scheduled to meet for six days‚ was because some people “who call themselves the stalwarts went around the country organising comrades because they had some concerns about the leadership“.
He criticised those veterans and said they came to report to Luthuli House that they had organised themselves as Veterans 101 to discuss the state of the organisation instead of raising the matter with the top leadership first.
“They took a decision outside the structures of the ANC to say they want a consultative conference. At first we thought it was very funny that so many comrades would sign a petition in the manner in which they did. Furthermore‚ the comrade who wrote the letter went around canvassing‚” said Zuma.
The veterans Zuma was referring to include Mavuso Msimang‚ Murphy Morobe and Wally Serote — who have called for him to step down. They had also proposed that the ANC hold a consultative conference to discuss the political crisis in the ANC which they have now boycotted.