Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu address former MK cadres. Picture: Getrude Makhafola/ANA

Johannesburg - The African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Committee (NEC) believes that a united Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) veterans structure is important to ultimately ensure that the governing party is itself united again, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Friday. 

"We had an NEC [National Executive Committee] meeting last week at which this matter was discussed. The unity of the MK is essential for the unity of the ANC, " Sisulu said to loud applause from delegates at the MK national council's conference held in Johannesburg. 

The NEC is the highest organ of the ANC between national conferences and has the authority to lead the organisation.

Sisulu said the NEC assessed the situation in the MK, which was was the armed wing of the ANC during the struggle against apartheid. She said they were assured that all necessary steps would be taken in consultation with the ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe and representatives of both warring factions, the MK National Council and the MKMVA to ensure unity. 

"That was meant to ensure that we arrive at a united meeting today. I do not know what happened, but whatever it is ... my request on behalf of the ANC is that all of us rise above all that has taken place," said Sisulu. 

Programme director Thembisile Majola, the deputy minister of energy, said alliance partners including the Congress of South African Trade Unions, South African National Civic Organisation and ANC leagues were invited to address the conference, but they did not show up. 

Sisulu decried the lack of funding for the two day conference. 

"Everything was arranged, it was at the last minute that things changed ... funding was supposed to include accommodation, venue, printing costs and so on ... but as we have done in previous occasions we will still hold this conference despite of lack of funding ... because we believe we have a responsibility to save this glorious movement."

Former president, Kgalema Motlanthe, is also expected to address the delegates to the three-day conference.