CAMPAIGNING: Hopeful presidential candidate and deputy president of the ANC Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the ANCYL at the Hillbrow Theatre.
The Umkhonto WeSizwe Military Veterans' Association, President Jacob Zuma’s staunch allies, have taken a swipe at Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying they are concerned about his conduct.

Ramaphosa addressed a meeting of another faction of MK combatants, the MK Council, against the advice of his own fellow party leaders.

On Saturday MKMVA chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe told Independent Media their national working committee would meet on Monday to express their disapproval of Ramaphosa’s decision to address a conference of their rivals.

“We are going to respond to what transpired and the behaviour of ANC NEC members who attended the so-called conference.

"We are concerned about the behaviour of ANC NEC members including the deputy president.

“They know the decision of the ANC NEC on the status of that conference,” Maphatsoe said.

Ramaphosa broke ranks with his own fellow party leaders who allegedly tried to block him from addressing another rival grouping of its former freedom fighters.

He made the confession when he addressed the MK council national conference held at Nasrec, south of Johannesburg, on Saturday.

The MK national council is led by former SANDF General Siphiwe Nyanda and Deputy Minister of Correctional Services Thabang Makwetla as well as chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Thandi Modise.

Another faction known as the UMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans (MKMVA) is led by Maphatsoe and appears to have the full support and endorsement by Zuma.

Ramaphosa, who is a presidential hopeful, was given a standing ovation by the former freedom fighters. Most of those were old and grey-haired freedom fighters and came from various detachments of UMkhonto weSizwe including the famous Luthuli Detachment. Others came in wheelchairs and were among those rooting for Ramaphosa’s ANC leadership.

Ramaphosa did not disappoint them, after there was uncertainty among the organisers that he would attend the conference but his presence dispelled the notion.

“I can confirm that I was asked not to address the national council. The view was that I would be seen to be factional.

“My retort was, I was never factional in my life.

"I was never factional as a member of the National Union of Mineworkers, Cosatu and secretary general of the ANC. I’ve always known and understand that a task of a leader is to unite.

“My abiding task is to join leaders like former ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe and to continue in his path to forge unity. Kgalema is not factional. I follow in those footsteps,” said Ramaphosa.

Motlanthe was present at the conference from when it started on Friday.

Ramaphosa blamed the existence of the factions of the military veterans squarely on the ANC national leadership saying he and others in the ANC leadership had done nothing to unite the warring factions.

His admission was applauded by those present in Nasrec.

“We have contributed to the divisions in Umkhonto weSizwe,” he said.

Ramaphosa said the upcoming ANC elective conference was a defining moment for their party, who are expected to decide on the fate of their own organisation.

“Malpractices such as corruption have debilitated our movement. We should speak out against corruption especially if is done by our own members. We should correct the wrong happening in our movement,” Ramaphosa said.

Later in the day, Ramaphosa addressed the ANC Youth League in Joburg, a move that angered the national leadership of the league, who support former African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to lead the party beyond December.

Speaking yesterday at one of the ANCYL’s 73rd-anniversary celebrations held at the Hillbrow Theatre in Joburg, Ramaphosa said while there was a lot of uncertainty in various sectors including business, people were looking for a conference that will be a big saviour for the country.

He added the party needed leaders who were prepared to put people first.

“The ANC is not a vehicle for self-enrichment or patronage. If you want to be a leader put the people of South Africa first and serve them.”

He also warned that the party was in need of astute young leaders such as OR Tambo, Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu who would put the interest of the people first.

“We don’t want youthful leaders who are stupid. We don’t want youthful leaders who don’t know their stuff. We want youthful leaders who know where to take the country to. Who are educated,” he said.

ANC Joburg Inner City Zone secretary Sasabona Manganye was clear in his message to Ramaphosa: “We want you to lead with young people so that in 2022 young people can take over.”

But ANC Youth League general secretary Njabulo Nzuza said those who packed the Hillbrow Theatre were not ANCYL members.

“Our regional task team in Joburg never organised such an event... It was just organised to create the impression that the Youth League supports Cyril Ramaphosa to become ANC president. The ANC Youth League took a decision that they support Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma as candidate for ANC president,” Nzuza said.

Sunday Independent