Durban – The uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) says it has been taken by surprise by the sudden recommendations that they should be disbanded and that a unity conference, which would include its splinter group, the MK Council, should be immediately convened.
Speaking to Independent Media on Monday after widespread rumours that later turned out to be partly false, claiming that ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa had issued a party decree disbanding the historic structure of former ANC combatants, MKMVA president Kebby Maphatsoe clarified that this was not the case.
He said there was no such decree issued by Ramaphosa, but the recommendation came out of last week’s meeting of the peace and stability committee of the ANC which is chaired by Tony Yengeni, a member of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC).
Maphatsoe said that while Yengeni did not take part in that meeting because he had some pressing family commitments, acting ANC deputy secretary-general (DSG) Jessie Duarte did take part and communicated the resolutions of the committee to him by phone.
“The recommendations to disband came from a meeting of the peace and stability subcommittee and we found that very strange because the committee met without its chairperson, Tony Yengeni. So the issue of disbanding the MKMVA was never discussed by the officials, but by the committee.
“I only got to know about the recommendations when I got a call from the DSG Jessie Duarte). I must say that we were taken by surprise that there is a recommendation like this one,” Maphatsoe said.
Duarte did not respond when asked to corroborate Maphatsoe’s comments on the matter.
Maphatsoe also said that as MKMVA leadership, they had always been ready to go to a unity conference with the MK Council (which was formed in the last years of the Jacob Zuma presidency), but the structure “abruptly pulled out” when they had already set dates for the conference.
“What the ANC should be doing is that they should be forcing the MK Council to go back to the unit talks and take part in the conference. That’s it,” he said.
The secretary-general of the MK Council, Gregory Nthatisi, confirmed they had not received any official information about the disbanding of the two structures but stressed that any moves would be welcomed. He said all efforts should be about the unity and dignity of the structure.
“Any measure that might lead to realising an authentic and honest structure based on the history and heritage of the ANC would always be celebrated and we will support such a move,” Nthatisi said.
Nthatisi disputed Maphatsoe’s claim that the MK Council abruptly withdrew days before a unity conference was convened. He said they “suspended” their participation until their demands have been met.
Among the demands he said they made was that when they go to the conference, the leadership of MKMVA must give a full report about the association’s investments and assets accumulated over the years.
The other issue, Nthatisi added, was that the MKMVA must respect the elected leadership of the ANC and they were not happy with the verification process of MKMVA members ahead of the conference.
“We did not pull out, but we suspended our participation subject to our meeting with the officials (top six) to among other things, raise those issues,” he said, adding that they were not happy with Yengeni’s work as the convener of the six aside talks.