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The Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) has noted with concern the announcement that Deputy President Ramaphosa made about the slate that he wants to lead the ANC under his leadership.
While we have no intention to campaign negatively against any candidate who is contesting for the Presidency of the ANC, and re-affirm the sentiments of our preferred candidate comrade Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma that this must be a contestation among fellow comrades where the unity and interests of the ANC should always prevail, we are under the circumstances obliged to raise concerns of organisational principle and discipline:
– We affirm the statement by the Secretary General (SG) of the ANC, comrade Gwede Mantashe, to the effect that in 2015 the National General Council (NGC) resolved to outlaw slates and reaffirmed the role of the branch as the basic unit of the ANC. Furthermore, that in implementing the resolution the NEC directed that we ensure branch nominations are not tampered with, and that the will of the branches is reflected and respected.
– This resolution of the National General Council, however, does not state that members of the ANC should not have preferences, nor that ANC members, Leagues and Associations should not have preferred comrades and lobby for those whom they prefer. This would be impossible and illogical, because lobbying is a natural and inevitable part of democracy.
– However, such lobbying should never be elevated to the pronouncement of a slate of ‘running mates’ by any comrade who is contesting for the presidency of the ANC. It cannot be that any comrade behaves like a Bafana Bafana Couch announcing the selection of ‘his team’, and in doing so undermine the inalienable right of our ANC branches to select the best candidates to implement the National Democratic Revolution (NDR).
– While, as we have stated, we concur with the Secretary General of the ANC that slates were outlawed by the National General Council, we find it disingenuous to try and equate lobbying lists that have been making the rounds with the formal pronouncement of comrade Ramaphosa of ‘his team’. That pronouncement undeniably created a slate and no subsequent protestations by comrade Ramaphosa to the contrary will change this unfortunate reality. In doing so comrade Ramaphosa usurped the entrenched right of the ANC branches to nominate candidates of their choosing. Equating the existence of lobbying lists to the formal announcement that comrade Ramaphosa made seems to be a deliberate attempt to obscure and fudge the issue, and in doing so to water down the seriousness of comrade Ramaphosa’s ill-disciplined behaviour and the undemocratic manner in which he is trying to dictate his particular preferred candidates to the ANC branches.
– There is a strong responsibility on the Secretary General of the ANC, who is the administrative head of the countrywide elective process that leads up to the National Elective Conference, to be unambiguous about how he pronounces on any issues that arise and to execute his duties without fear or favour. Unfortunately by confusing (or trying to treat as similar) the existence of lobbying lists with the slate that comrade Ramaphosa announced comrade Mantashe, in the media statement that he issued yesterday, did neither the ANC nor himself any favours. Inevitably the unfortunate question arises whether he is deliberately obfuscating the issues because he finds himself on the slate that the Deputy President announced? At this sensitive period, so close to the National Elective Conference, such concerns should not at all arise, and MKMVA calls on our Secretary General of the ANC to take greater care with how he pronounces himself on these serious matters.
MKMVA reaffirms our commitment to the democratic processes of the African National Congress. In doing so we reject slate politics, because they undermine the democratic rights of our branches to select candidates. Similarly we reaffirm our democratic right, together with every member of the ANC, to lobby for those candidates that we believe will best serve the interests of the ANC and our country.
Ultimately it is the choice of every branch of the ANC to take note of our lobbying, as well as the lobbying of others, and to execute their democratic right to nominate the candidates that they prefer. No slate should be forced onto them in an attempt to short-circuit this democratic process and to force a pre-conceived leadership collective on them that have been cooked up somewhere else outside the democratic structures and processes of the ANC. Such behaviour is indeed alien to being a member of the ANC. Anyone who tries to impose his or her will in this manner on our ANC branches does not understand the culture of democratic empowerment of our people, which is what the ANC is all about.
Issued by Carl Niehaus, MKMVA National Executive Committee member and National Spokesperson. Mobile number: +27 82 796 2626