Tension heightened when the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) launched a scathing attack on ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, calling him a liar.
The MK vets also fired a broadside at Human Settlements Minister and presidential hopeful Lindiwe Sisulu.
Sisulu and Ramaphosa were attacked for attending the conference of the MK council, a rival faction of the MKMVA, at the weekend.
But Sisulu would have none of it, charging the MKMVA were “talking rubbish” and were “newcomers” in the ANC.
MKMVA chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe and his team claimed that the two senior ANC leaders attended the MK council conference to fulfil their “personal ambitions” of being ANC president at the party’s conference in December.
According to Maphatsoe, both presidential hopefuls did not have the interests of military veterans.
MKMVA national executive member Shirley Brown accused Sisulu of using her political portfolio for her presidential campaign, while the organi- sation’s deputy president, Taylor Nsimbini, called Ramaphosa a liar.
Maphatsoe shared the same view, saying: “The deputy president is a liar. A liar is a liar. It is a collective decision of the national working committee of the MKMVA.”
Similar allegations were levelled against former SANDF general Siphiwe Nyanda and Deputy Minister of Correctional Services Thabang Makwetla.
Maphatsoe also claimed that it was because of his organisation that there was a “Department of Military Veterans in government”.
Sisulu was outraged about the allegations against her. “They are talking absolute rubbish. Maphatsoe and his executive are newcomers in the ANC. I’ve been in the ANC military longer than most of them. My duty as the minister of housing then was to provide houses to indigent people,” she said.
“In 2006, I made it a policy that houses should be given to military veterans. I was chairperson of the safety and security committee of the ANC together with Ayanda Dlodlo and other committee members who ensured that it was adopted at the 2006 ANC policy conference. It was further endorsed at Polokwane. I doubt if Kebby was at Polokwane.”
Sisulu said she cared for ex-combatants and that when she was minister of defence, she made sure that soldiers were allocated houses.
“Kebby Maphatsoe and Shirley Brown - whoever she is - are talking absolute rubbish.”
She also slammed Maphatsoe over the Department of Defence and Military Veterans returning more than R168 million to the Treasury.
“Kebby approached me and informed me that they had returned R168 million to the system.
“He does not have a database of soldiers who qualify for housing. I offered to assist in compiling such a database if I could access the money they had returned to Treasury.
“I offered to create a database for them, the Department of Military Veterans, because soldiers are family,” Sisulu said.
She also defended her decision to attend the MK national council conference, saying she was an invited guest.
“I doubt the bona fides of Kebby and his group. They might not know, but I know them during my days in the intelligence; I have the bio- graphies of each of them. I do not know on what basis they make the claims against me,” she said.
Sisulu challenged Maphatsoe to a public debate.
Ramaphosa’s office did not respond by the time of publication.
Nyanda said: “They can make any allegations but I am not going to respond.”
Meanwhile, the ANC Youth League’s eThekwini region in KwaZulu-Natal tackled Ramaphosa’s comments at the weekend.
Speaking at the ANCYL’s 73rd anniversary celebrations at the Hillbrow Theatre on Saturday, Ramaphosa said: “The ANC today needs the imagination, foresight and political clarity of the Youth League of 1944
“We don’t want youthful leaders who are stupid. We don’t want youthful leaders who don’t know their stuff. We want youthful leaders who know where to take the country to. Who are educated.”
eThekwini ANCYL spokesman Thulisa Ndlela said that despite Ramaphosa being an ANC leader “who has never been a leader or a member of the youth league, although he had an opportunity to be”, the league still expected “better of him”.
“If an elder identifies certain flaws and shortcomings within the youth league, he has a responsibility of approaching the youth league and expressing what he feels is an issue,” he said.
“For him to take to a podium and say ‘we do not want youthful leaders who are stupid’ is unfortunate. We don’t understand why the deputy president would use such language.”
The region has written to Ramaphosa, asking him to “explain the disappointing and offensive” statement.
“We want an opportunity for him to take us into confidence, explain how that particular sentence in his thinking came about,” Ndlela said.
ANC spokesperson, Khusela Sangoni, said if the ANCYL in eThekwini were serious about raising the issue, they knew what steps to follow.
“There is no structure of the youth league that will write to the deputy president directly, there is a proper organisational protocol they will have to follow.”