ANC secretary general Ace Magashule launched an all-out attack on Derek Hanekom earlier this week. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The sequence of events that unfolded this week with African National Congress secretary general Ace Magashule's public attack on veteran ANC member and former minister Derek Hanekom, and attacks that preceded this on other veteran ANC members, appear to be an orchestrated campaign to divert attention from corruption and state capture, ANC stalwarts representing members of the ANC Veterans League and long-serving members of the ANC under the banner "For the Sake of Our Future" said on Saturday.

In an open letter to the ANC top six and all national executive committee (NEC) members, the group said, "We have canvassed our views widely and believe we represent the views of many loyal members of the ANC who are determined to ensure that the values of our beloved organisation are restored, and the ANC renewed.

"We have noted with great concern and alarm the public attack, allegedly emanating  from the office of the secretary general, close to midnight on Wednesday 24 August 2019, responding to mischievous and untested revelations by the EFF [Economic Freedom Fighters] that comrade Derek Hanekom ‘colluded’ with its MP’s to engineer a vote of no confidence in former president Jacob Zuma," the stalwarts said.

If the "correspondence" was from Magashule, it regrettably continued to develop a perception that the organisation remained divided and factionalised.

"We are sure members of the top six and the NEC agree that there must be a stop to attacking members who have dedicated their lives to our movement. We are sure the NEC is aware that the vote of no confidence in the national legislature, referred to by the EFF, followed guidance provided by the Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to the Speaker of the National Assembly, in response to an approach to the Constitutional Court, to rule on a secret ballot that:  'Members are required to swear or affirm faithfulness to the Republic and obedience to the Constitution and laws. Nowhere does the supreme law provide for them to swear allegiance to their political parties, important players though they are in our constitutional scheme. Meaning in the event of conflict between upholding constitutional values and party loyalty, their irrevocable undertaking to in effect serve the people and do only what is in their best interests must prevail. This is so not only because they were elected through their parties to represent the people, but also to enable the people to govern through them, in terms of the Constitution'.”

It was also worth noting that prior to Zuma's resignation in February 2018, the ANC chief whip was quoted as having said that the governing party would hold talks with the EFF to amend and support the 2018 motion of no confidence.

"While we do not know if comrade Derek supported that vote of no confidence, which was indeed decided on by secret ballot, we wish to extend our unequivocal support to comrade Derek and all comrades who may have supported the vote of no confidence. They did nothing wrong," the stalwarts said. 

The NEC would also be aware that Magashule's "apparent statement", issued within hours of Hanekom's confirmation that he had met the EFF secretary general, could not possibly have been canvassed widely with office bearers of the ANC leadership.

It was ironic that the statement labelling a fellow NEC member a “charlatan”, an “EFF sleeper”, and a “wedge driver on a mission to divide the ANC” and “form a new political party” was issued in the context of, and yet untested, allegations that Magashule was involved in the formation of the African Transformation Movement (ATM).

However, members of the NEC and the movement would have seen and heard media coverage of Magashule himself reassuring crowds that they should not be disheartened, as President Cyril Ramaphosa would "be there for only five years".

"We have seen photographs of the former president of the ANC [Zuma], at the height of the election campaign, saluting in concert with the BLF [Black First, Land First]. These are serious deviations still be seriously examined." 

Tried and tested members of the movement, including Hanekom, Pravin Gordhan, Siphiwe Nyanda, and others had been singled out and attacked. "We believe that this is because of their commitment to the historical values and principles of the ANC and their unrelenting resistance to corruption and state capture. There can be no other logical reason.   

"We find it somewhat sinister that the following day, hot on the heels of the midnight statement, the ANCYL [Youth League] in the Free State and MKMVA [MK Military Veterans' Association] issued statements echoing the midnight pronouncement, and that former President Zuma asserted that comrade Derek is a known enemy agent, this after having made similar assertions about comrades Siphiwe Nyanda and Ngoako Ramathlodi at the Zondo Commission.

"These assertions are preposterous. We strongly urge the NEC to call on all members, irrespective of their position in our movement, not to make unsubstantiated accusations, especially when we all are aware of the potential consequences of irresponsibly labelling comrades as enemy agents and spies.

"Lastly, and most importantly, we wish to assert that the sequence of events that has unfolded this week, and attacks that preceded this on comrades Pravin Gordhan, Trevor Manuel, Maria Ramos, and others, appear to be an orchestrated campaign to divert attention from corruption and state capture. 

"The ANC is not a club, nor is it a cult to be manipulated. Those implicated, to whom we direct this message, should be in no doubt that any attack on comrades who have stood up against corruption and state capture is also an attack on other tried and tested veterans of the ANC.

"The NEC is called upon to defend these comrades at this time of peril for the ANC. This will be an important sign that our once-proud movement can be made whole again if you now act with the courage of your convictions and with your consciences. These comrades have shown the way.

"We believe that you, as members of the NEC, must also stand shoulder to shoulder with them now, as we do, for the sake of our country and our movement," the stalwarts said.

African News Agency (ANA)