Stalwarts too late to save ANC
ANC stalwarts and veterans this past weekend went ahead with the consultative conference they had been mooting. This they did after their call to the national executive committee a few months earlier fell on deaf ears.
This is not just a statement of deep dissatisfaction with the current leadership of the party, but also a rejection or vote of no confidence in that leadership.
The stalwarts' actions are unprecedented. At no other time have they taken such drastic action. And so, this latest move has been interpreted by President Jacob Zuma supporters as an attempt to undermine him. They have questioned the motives of the erstwhile leaders.
During the previous administrations led by Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela, the stalwarts and veterans kept a low profile, leaving contemporary matters to contemporary leadership. This is what makes their action so significant.
The ANC is on the brink of demise and the stalwarts perceive this. They have been watching on the sidelines for many years as their beloved movement has been dismantled by unscrupulous individuals who care for nothing but enriching themselves.
But their action has come a little too late. In fact, coming so close to the elective conference, this latest move unfortunately plays into the current factional battles being waged by the different camps vying to take over the highest office of the party.
The issues the stalwarts and veterans are raising have been troubling the party for a long time. These challenges preceded Zuma. Zuma has merely excelled in taking advantage of the weaknesses in the ANC's party machinery.
The matter of modernising the party, in particular, the membership system, as the stalwarts have pointed out, is long overdue. The need to give the party's integrity commission greater teeth should have been foreseen prior to the installation of a leadership that would have the propensity to run amok as happened under Zuma.
It would not be unfair to ask the stalwarts how it is that this once glorious movement got so far beyond the point of redemption while they stood by and watched. They surely have to ask themselves the same question if they are being truly honest.