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ANC veterans League president Sandi Sejake has hit back at the ruling party after it met the league leadership behind his back to discuss his recent criticism of President Jacob Zuma and the party. He said he would not live with the image of corruption attached to the ANC.
“I am not part of those who are corrupt. There should be a lifestyle audit to distinguish the corrupt members from those of us who are genuine members who love the ANC,” he said.
“We will not live with this corrupt label because of some individuals who are perpetrating anti-ANC behaviour.”
Sejake was responding after ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe issued a statement late on Monday saying the party had met the veterans’ league leadership.
It had expressed its disappointment in Sejake’s pronouncements and “collectively distanced themselves from the reckless and unwarranted comments”.
The meeting came after Zuma, in his opening address at the party’s policy conference in Midrand last week, directed a veiled attack at Sejake, who had criticised the party leadership and called for Zuma to be replaced at the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung in December.
He has recently also slammed the party’s handling of The Spear painting issue and the disciplinary steps taken in relation to ANC Youth League members.
In January, Sejake said “syndicates” had taken over the election of leadership in the ANC at all levels. He said Zuma had to be removed as party president in Mangaung because of his ties to the powerful Gupta family.
Zuma warned in his address last week against wanton ill-discipline and suggested that those who defied the party leadership would face serious consequences and risked expulsion.
Zuma cautioned elders in the party who defended the ill-discipline of the ANC Youth League.
A defiant Sejake said: “Discipline must have grounds. It would be interesting to be disciplined – and to see on what grounds this would be done.
“I am very clear about what is happening in the ANC. Many people in the ANC are bought. They are not volunteers like we were. Nobody came to me with money promising me tenders and government positions.
“For me it was about getting rid of apartheid and building a non-racial democracy.
“Discipline or no discipline, it will be interesting to hear the conditions under which disciplinary action is instituted.”
Veterans’ league secretary-general Natso Khumalo effectively endorsed Mantashe’s statement yesterday when he said: “Once the leadership has spoken, it means they have spoken. That’s it.”
Khumalo would not be drawn further on the matter.
Mantashe said in the statement that the meeting followed a number of negative comments made by Sejake in relation to the ANC national executive committee and Zuma.
Mantashe said Sejake, himself an NEC member, had sought to undermine it and the president “outside the established framework”.
The veterans’ league leadership had explained that it had not given Sejake a mandate for his comments.
“The ANC views his conduct as being inconsistent with his responsibility as the president of the ANCVL,” Mantashe said.
The veterans’ league – which is open to all ANC members aged 60 and older, and which is aimed at ensuring they make a contribution to the organisation – was started in 2007 by Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, who is considered a political rival to Zuma and is reportedly close to Sejake.
Asked for comment yesterday, Sejake said Monday’s meeting was “news to me”.
“I never knew they were meeting by themselves, let alone with ANC leaders. Our last meeting of the veterans’ league was in March this year. We haven’t met since then.”
He said this was an attempt to divide the leadership of the league before Mangaung.
Sejake said he was undaunted by threats of discipline. “One of the functions of the veterans’ league is that they are custodians of the ANC, and our job is to speak out about what is wrong. If you can’t speak out on what’s wrong in the ANC, then you are not correcting anything. It is our responsibility to speak out and correct what is wrong.”