Picture: Phill Magakoe/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Elders in the ANC have warned that they will continue being a thorn in the sides of corrupt leaders in an effort to save the governing party.

“The veterans league stated very clearly that it had the authority to intervene in all issues that affect the integrity and dignity of the ANC,” Veterans League president Snuki Zikalala said on Sunday.

His comments came amid President Cyril Ramaphosa indicating that the ANC would have headed down a path of destruction if its elective conference did not take place in 2017.

Ramaphosa was delivering the annual OR Tambo Memorial lecture in Naledi, Soweto. The lecture was part of the ANC’s commemoration of the watershed Morogoro consultative conference in 1969, which was held by the party to address its internal crisis, including divisions and low morale of freedom fighters.

Ramaphosa said before the Nasrec conference, the ANC had been floundering with party leaders bruising each other over control of state resources.

He said as with Morogoro, it was the delegates at the party’s Nasrec conference who saved the ANC.

“It was the delegates of the 24th conference, the representatives of the branches of the ANC who determined that the ANC was in deep crisis. It was they who decided that organisational renewal was an absolute and an urgent priority for the survival of our movement.”

He said the current leadership had worked tirelessly to help the ANC to “restore its moral fibre and its moral compass” while also trying to unite it.

Addressing a packed Naledi Community Hall, Ramaphosa was flanked by the party’s top leadership, including secretary-general Ace Magashule and treasurer-general Paul Mashatile.

He said internal ANC contestations had distorted every aspect of the party’s life, from the recruitment of members to the functioning of branches and the organisation of conferences.

Ramaphosa said OR Tambo’s contribution to the integrity and unity of the ANC during its darkest days was unmatched. He said the Morogoro conference had been the most testing of Tambo’s character, who led the ANC for about 30 years.

“When it had seemed that this movement that he had been asked in 1960 to go and establish an outside mission for was falling apart he worked tirelessly to ensure that the movement remained united and focused.” Gauteng Premier David Makhura said the ANC had to insist on quality as a tribute to Tambo.

“OR (Tambo) insisted on quality and that renewal must bring us back to quality. He insisted on the quality of the membership and the cadreship and he insisted on the quality of leadership.

“He also insisted on the quality of our actions and the consistency and dignity with which we carry ourselves, so when we carry this programme of renewal, we must say we want the return of quality in the ANC.”

Political Bureau