President Jacob Zuma.

Johannesburg - ANC veteran Sindiso Mfenyana says events in the ANC leadership have proved that former president Thabo Mbeki was correct when he said Jacob Zuma was not the right person to lead the party and the country.

But he said Mbeki was wrong to unilaterally fire Zuma without consulting the people.

“He knew certain things about Zuma, which made him feel that (Zuma was not suitable to be president).

“He said Zuma’s deficiencies as a leader had compromised the reputation of the ANC.

“The ANC was respected because people knew that the leaders were good parents and upstanding members of society,” said Mfenyana.

Mfenyana also aimed some harsh words at fellow party veterans. He said it was a serious mistake for them to have boycotted the ANC’s national policy conference at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Soweto.

Mfenyana, 77, told The Star that it would have been better for the veterans “to come here to put their case rather than just stay away”.

Mfenyana was a close ally of former ANC presidents Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo.

“To tell you the truth, the veterans made a mistake by not being here. If the leadership offers us this opportunity, let us meet during this occasion. I would expect them to react in a positive way because the leadership of the ANC always listens,” he said.

The veterans had requested a consultative conference before the ANC held its policy conference - to engage the leadership about problems facing the party.

However, the leadership rejected the request, and instead offered the first two-days of the conference to be used for self-reflecting.

This, in turn, was rejected by the veterans.

On Tuesday, Mfenyana launched his book on his role in the ANC Struggle against apartheid, titled Walking with Giants: Life and Times of an ANC Veteran.

The veterans have said they will hold their own consultative conference in September.

In his opening address at the conference, Zuma criticised the veterans for rejecting the self-reflection meeting.

Mfenyana said he hoped the veterans would use their conference to recover the opportunity they had lost by shunning this week’s conference.

“They should persuade the ANC leadership to agree to sit with them and talk.”

He added that allegations of state capture involving Zuma’s business friends, the Guptas, were shocking.

“I am totally opposed to attempts by whoever to take over our elected government,” he said.

The Star