Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma and his NEC need to hold talks with the African National Congress veterans who have been critical of his leadership, former president Thabo Mbeki has said.
This was to ensure that the ANC remained loyal to its values and its obligations to the people of South Africa and Africa, he wrote in a letter to Zuma on Tuesday.
Mbeki said the 101 party veterans were a “very senior, outstanding and historic echelon” who had ensured the party’s survival and who deserved the national executive committee’s respect. He criticised the ANC for trying to resolve their concerns “administratively”.
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The veterans had called for the party to hold a consultative conference to discuss the political crisis in the ANC.
Last week, the 101 long-standing ANC members called on the party to change its ways to regain society’s trust. The group included Rivonia trialist Denis Goldberg, former National Assembly speaker Frene Ginwala, and former ministers Trevor Manuel, Essop Pahad, and Siphiwe Nyanda.
They have expressed frustration over attempts to engage the party internally and said their requests for a meeting with Zuma had been unsuccessful.
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Mbeki believed there were many more ANC stalwarts who backed the veterans’ views. He said the veterans were more “eminently senior, politically” than many members of the current NEC.
He criticised the NEC for insisting that the veterans should speak out only through ANC branches, the veterans’ league, or other party structures.
Goldberg pointed out last week that the veterans’ league no longer existed, and that they were making their frustrations public because the party was not listening to them.