09/10/2017 18:38 SAST | Updated 09/10/2017 18:38 SAST

Divisions In uMkhonto We Sizwe Could Further Divide The ANC

The rifts were most glaring when MKMVA president Kebby Maphatsoe slammed rival groupings within the organisation during a media briefing on Monday.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
A member of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association stands guard at ANC headquarters in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa.

Ruptures within uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) are reaching an unsafe boiling point, with one group continuously lambasting the other on the grounds of credibility and morality.

The rifts were most glaring when MK Military Veterans' Association (MKMVA) president Kebby Maphatsoe slammed rival groupings within the organisation during a media briefing on Monday.

His proclamations came after the MK National Council –- seen as the rival breakaway group -– held its conference over the weekend, where it lambasted President Jacob Zuma and Maphatsoe.

And analysts say the factional tension in uMkhonto we Sizwe is a symptom of the divisions within the ANC.

"Any strife and divisions within our ranks are counterproductive and mitigate against the interest of MK military veterans. MKMVA must be firmly rooted within the organisational structures of our mother body, the ANC.

"That is why when some individual MK members started to challenge the authority of our MKMVA organisational structures and the leadership of these structures that have been democratically elected, we felt that engagement rather than an antagonistic rejection of them as fellow comrades was the correct approach," Maphotsoe said.

He said that when the MK National Council was formed, his group did not denounce it structure but followed the route of engagement instead.

"Over a period of time, we reluctantly came to the conclusion that the intention of the MK National Counsel grouping was not to first and foremost raise concerns about the wellbeing and services being provided to MK military veterans," he said.

"They were politically driven to either destroy MKMVA or take it over and put it into the service of alien political ideals and associates that do not want to see the implementation of radical economic transformation."

But ANC veteran Mavuso Msimang, who led a presentation at the council's conference, has a different story to tell.

He said the MKMVA is being "misused" as a political organisation rather than a welfare group to assist veterans.

"Zuma and the majority of the national executive committee have been accepting something that is quite illegal. The Veterans' League never really took off and the MKMVA [has] been happy to fill that void. The whole operation is illegal, but the powers that be have allowed it," Msimang said in an interview with HuffPost SA.

He said the council is attempting to revitalise the Veterans' League.

The cracks within the veterans' group manifested late last year when one group, now labelled as the council, dissociated itself from Maphatsoe's decision to give awards to those associated with the Zuma faction, such as Dudu Myeni, Hlaudi Motsoeneng and Brian Molefe.

The rival groups have since been boycotting each other's meetings, while further taking hits at one another in the media.

READ: Siphiwe Nyanda: Increasing Factionalism In ANC Is Driving It Apart

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said the battles reflect divisions within the ANC.

"There is a perception that a certain faction in the ANC has seized all the structures. Within the MK veterans, there are those who see themselves as the custodians of the liberation... the others are aligned to Zuma," Mathekga said.

"This battle has the potential to create more divisions within the ANC."