ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Theresa Taylor

Johanensburg - ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has lambasted the ANC Veterans’ League, saying it was characterised by divisions, pettiness and public spats.

He said the league was almost crippled by ill-health, deaths and old age.

Mantashe, in his organisational report presented to the ANC national executive committee meeting at the weekend, said the league was drifting into an organisation of senior citizens with no verifiable involvement in the party for 40 years or longer.

This was because it had resisted and rejected the establishment by the ANC of an independent body to verify the involvement of its individual members, both internally and in exile.

But ANC Veterans’ League president Sandi Sejake dismissed Mantashe’s report on Sunday as a “thumb-suck”. He said Mantashe had manipulated the report for the purpose of ensuring his re-election at the party’s Mangaung national elective conference next month.

According to Sejake, Mantashe was deliberately discrediting the league because it had refused to seek his “permission before we speak”.

He said Mantashe and his colleagues at Luthuli House had funded a “small faction” of the veterans to divide the league and eventually take over its running.

According to the report, the league had members whose credentials were unknown because it had resisted any attempt at verification.

“No progress has been made in this regard and as a result the structure is drifting towards being the home of senior citizens with no verifiable involvement in the movement for 40 years or longer.

“The biggest challenges facing this structure are ill-health, age and deaths. Divisions, pettiness and involvement in public spats have characterised the Veterans’ League,” Mantashe wrote.

He added that while the league was active in almost all the provinces, it lacked office space and money to fund its programmes.

Sejake rejected all allegations contained in Mantashe’s report, saying the secretary-general was dishonest.

He said Mantashe fabricated allegations of divisions, public spats, age problems and ill-health in order to silence league leaders, and eventually take over on the basis of incapacity.

Sejake said Mantashe was the one who refused to give the league money to verify the credentials of veterans as young as 55 years who had been included by his office.

“He wants to be re-elected in Mangaung, and he wants to do everything and even discredit ourselves for no good reason.

“He is doing this in order to manipulate and run it the way he wants as his institution,” said Sejake.

He added that Mantashe’s report was based on briefings from the same people he had funded to divide the league.

According to Sejake, Mantashe and Luthuli House were angry with the league for demanding transparency and a say in the Veterans Trust, which he said they had secretly established without the knowledge of the league’s leadership.

“They handpicked the trustees, including some young guy in Mantashe’s office, and those veterans who are close to Luthuli House are getting the dividends.

“As long as they use these veterans to divide the Veterans’ League, divisions will continue,” Sejake said.

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The Star