POLITICS

MK Split Shows Up Deep Divisions

The MK faction led by veterans like Siphiwe Nyanda is trying to deliver a message to the ANC. But the party doesn't have a history of listening.

21/12/2016 08:29 SAST | Updated 21/12/2016 18:17 SAST
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Who's the real MK? The split among ANC veterans has shown deep divisions in the governing party.

COMMENT

A clash of ideologies and beliefs over what direction the African National Congress (ANC) must take has caused divisions within the former liberation movement.

Following the bruising defeat during the local government elections, various party structures have called for the ANC to change direction and go back to its roots.

Following the bruising defeat during the local government elections, various party structures have called for the ANC to change direction and go back to its roots.

The call has had both positive and negative consequences, with divisions emerging as a result. Veterans of the organisation have publicly decried the state of the ANC and called for a consultative conference to address the ills they have identified.

But they have been frowned upon, accused of not being active members of the ANC and of using the media to speak to the leadership. The group met the ANC and the organisation suggested that the consultative conference it had called for be incorporated into the party's upcoming policy conference.

Then, of course, there was the issue of certain members within the national executive committee (NEC) calling for the resignation of President Jacob Zuma. It was reported that the call almost resulted in senior members coming to blows with regards to the motion.

This was followed by a group of former Umkhonto WeSizwe (MK) combatants holding a veterans' council to map a way forward. Again, they were accused of doing things outside the ANC. These veterans have broken ranks with the MK veterans' association, led by Kebby Maphatsoe and Des van Rooyen.

These veterans have broken ranks with the MK veterans' association, led by Kebby Maphatsoe and Des van Rooyen.

The faction that comprises General Siphiwe Nyanda, Thabang Makwetla and Phumla Williams has however disputed this, maintaining that they are still disciplined members of the organisation who simply want to do the right thing. The group claims it represents a number of military detachments of MK, including the respected Luthuli Detachment and internal operatives.

The group has now called for a review of the ANC's constitution to ensure that loopholes that allow members to remain in the party despite wrongdoing are closed and that corruption is rooted out. They say they are standing up and saying "not in our name". They are now waiting for a meeting with the ANC leadership to discuss the resolutions reached during the council meeting, which was attended by at least 2,000 members of MK.

The veterans support holding the consultative conference ahead of the ANC's 2017 elective conference to look at organisational renewal. But they did not agree with the timeframe proposed by the party. The idea of having the consultative conference back-to-back with the policy conference is opposed, because any resolutions that come from the consultative conference would first need to be discussed within the NEC and any decisions on them reached before the policy conference.

The idea of having the consultative conference back-to-back with the policy conference is opposed, because any resolutions that come from the consultative conference would first need to be discussed within the NEC and any decisions on them reached before the policy conference.

Despite the splits and the name calling, there are individuals who simply want to see the party reinvent itself and regain its former glory.

Based on what Nyanda said during a press briefing on Monday, about Zuma supporting their conference, they will no doubt be given an audience by the ANC leadership – but it remains to be seen whether the party will take on board their recommendations or act on them.

The ANC has a history of hearing people but not listening to what they are saying. A simple example can be seen in events leading up to the local government elections, when Tshwane was burning. Party members and supporters told the organisation they did not want Thoko Didiza to run for mayor. The leadership that went to quell the situation told locals that they heard their cries, but that Didiza was not going anywhere.

The ANC has a history of hearing people but not listening to what they are saying. A simple example can be seen in events leading up to the local government elections when Tshwane was burning.

The party has shown arrogance and a refusal to listen to the people. Anyone who questions the leadership is seen as a counter-revolutionary, and little attempt is made to understand their point of view. A continuation of this behaviour will result in the party dying and being buried in the 2019 general elections.

History has shown that it is difficult to return to power once ousted. The Western Cape is a case in point - the party has failed to regain the province since losing it in 2009.

In the African tradition, we are always encouraged to listen to our elders and respect their wisdom in order to flourish in life. If the organisation is not careful and does not listen to the veterans, we might live to witness the fall of the giant. Jesus might just come back sooner than we had anticipated.