POLITICS

Veterans Want Separate Consultative Meeting On ANC 'Renewal'

News24 has been told that among the veterans’ plans was a nationwide "listening" tour.

05/12/2016 14:30 SAST | Updated 05/12/2016 14:42 SAST
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe.

ANC veterans want a separate national consultative conference to be held in March, instead of in June as part of the party's policy conference.

The more than 100 veterans are expected to push for this when they meet with ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe and his deputy, Jessie Duarte, on Monday.

The veterans held talks to discuss the outcome of the ANC's national executive committee meeting held last weekend. The NEC resolved to set aside two days of the policy conference to look at "organisational renewal".

The veterans, however, have argued that this will not address key concerns contained in a lengthy document released publicly last month. They believe that a separate consultative conference is the only way for the party to reflect on its problems.

The veterans argue that the organisation's claim that it can't afford to hold a consultative conference is moot and have offered to help the ANC find the money to pay for a separate and "substantive" nationwide engagement, which they have offered to facilitate.

Some of the 101 stalwarts who signed the document were worried that the ANC's stance was aimed at "frustrating", "silencing" and "co-opting" them by giving the impression that their concerns were being taken seriously.

Instead, the veterans want to be custodians of a fair and transparent process that sets the ANC back on track, and elect a leadership that is beyond reproach, at its elective conference in December next year.

'Listening tour'

News24 has been told that among the veterans' plans was a nationwide "listening" tour, similar to the compilation of citizens' hopes in the run-up to the drafting of the Constitution.

They believed this would enable the ANC's leadership to hear out people who had consistently voted for the party, but who were not necessarily members, a veteran told News24.

During their meeting last week, the days around Human Rights Day in March next year, were identified as a potential deadline for the consultative conference. There were concerns that slates for next year's national conference would be entrenched if the party delayed the assessment of its trajectory to June.

The group of veterans identified slates and vote-buying to support some leaders at elective conferences as some of the problems facing the party.

By organising and facilitating a conference focused only on the current state of the ANC, the stalwarts hope to stem the party's loss of support at the polls. There are growing fears that this decline will worsen during the 2019 general and provincial elections should it not take firm and urgent action.

The party is expected to hold a fierce leadership contest next year. It has begun in earnest already.

Cosatu and several of its affiliates have endorsed ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to lead the party, while the so-called "premier league" has indicated it wants a woman president.

Mantashe declined to comment.

News24