Force Zuma to apologise to veterans, say ANC leaders

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma greets President Jacob Zuma before the start of the ANC policy conference at Nasrec, Johannesburg. Photo: Masi Losi
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma greets President Jacob Zuma before the start of the ANC policy conference at Nasrec, Johannesburg. Photo: Masi Losi

Senior ANC delegates at the party's policy conference at Nasrec, south of Johannesburg, want the indaba to order President Jacob Zuma to apologise to party veterans for "insulting them".

Sowetan has learnt that during a discussion of the ANC's policy documents, ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu and MP Mondli Gungubele proposed that Zuma be asked to apologise to the 101 ANC veterans for referring to them as "so-called veterans" in his political overview delivered on Friday.

Zuma attacked the veterans when he departed from his prepared speech and went on to say that "some of these members are not as strong as they project themselves" and also portrayed them as liars.

Those at the session said Mthembu and Gungubele argued that their commission should recommend a resolution to the closing plenary on Wednesday that Zuma should apologise to the veterans.

"Their argument was that you cannot address people who have served the ANC for so long, who gave up their lives at some point to wage a liberation struggle, to be addressed as 'so-called veterans'," said a source who declined to be named.

"A delegate from KwaZulu-Natal tried to challenge the proposal but he was defeated by people from provinces such as the Western Cape and Gauteng - so the proposal is likely to be taken to plenary," he said.

Gungubele and Mthembu could not be reached for comment by the time of going to print.

Another senior leader said there was unhappiness among delegates at the six-day policy indaba about Zuma's attack on the veterans. He said delegates were shocked that Zuma chose to deviate from his written text to lash out at them.

The 101 veterans, who include stalwarts such as Rivonia trialist Andrew Mlangeni and former Presidency director-general Frank Chikane, have repeatedly called for Zuma to step down.

Boy Mamabolo, a delegate from Polokwane, said Zuma was "out of order". "ANC chair Baleka Mbete should have called him to order," he said.

Speaking on behalf of the 101 veterans, ANC stalwart Wally Serote said they were shocked by Zuma's assault on them.

"The stalwarts and veterans are totally perplexed by the bizarre and dishonest statements by the president ," said Serote.

The MK Veterans National Council steering committee said Zuma's view that the veterans had "an over-exaggerated view of themselves and their influence in the organisation" was wrong.

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