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‘You have the right to lead the renewal process,’ Ramaphosa tells Veterans’ League

‘You have the right to lead the renewal process,’ Ramaphosa tells Veterans’ League
From left: Mavuso Msimang. (Photo: Gallo Images / Beeld / Felix Dlangamandla) | Snuki Zikalala. (Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Simphiwe Mbokazi)

ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged the new ANC Veterans’ League leadership to continue championing organisational renewal. At the weekend, the league elected Snuki Zikalala as its leader.

In his closing remarks at the ANC Veterans’ League conference on Sunday 30 July, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the league should not only focus on its past victories, but look ahead to how it can shape the governing party’s future. This includes leading the way in the party’s organisational renewal programme.

Ramaphosa was speaking after the election of new leadership at the Veterans’ League conference at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg.

“Ahead of this conference and the [ANC’s] 55th conference, you took it upon yourselves to own the whole process of renewal of your movement. Veterans represented here have reaffirmed their commitment to the [National Democratic Revolution]. This is articulated in your declaration.

“You have the right to call upon our structures to unite and to get rid of factionalism and to say there should be discipline within the organisation and that we must be well-behaved in meetings of the ANC. You have the right because it is borne out of your experience, your consciousness and who you are,” said Ramaphosa.

“You have the right and a voice… You, as the African National Congress Veterans’ League, have a right. Do not ever think that by executing your role in the process of the renewal of the ANC and calling for unity, you are doing it from a weak position — you have a right. You have the right to talk about renewal.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘We must do more, better, faster’: ANC pledges to start ‘painful’ renewal process to restore its relevance and battered credibility

Ramaphosa believes that the Veterans’ League is in an ideal position to push the renewal project because its members have passed the stage of having an interest in leadership positions in the mother body.

The Veterans’ League is open to ANC members over the age of 60 who have served the party for at least 40 years.

“The good thing about your involvement as well is that you are not looking for positions. You are not involved in a struggle for positions to be either president of the republic or premier or whatever. You are doing it because of your commitment and that is what you need to remind us about, that you do not have any conflict of interest. 

“In our movement nowadays, it is a fight till the end for positions because by getting into those positions we advance our own standing in society and so forth. You are different and that is why you have this right, the right to intervene, the right to speak out and the right to lead the renewal process,” the ANC president reiterated.

Snuki Zikalala’s election uncontested

Snuki Zikalala was elected for his second term as Veterans’ League president uncontested after it was revealed that Tony Yengeni would no longer contest for the position because he was a guest, not a delegate at the conference, having failed to garner the backing from branches to contest for the top position.

Zikalala is a former journalist and was the head of news at the SABC in the early 2000s. He left the broadcaster after a row with management. At the time there were concerns that his ANC ties would result in the SABC turning into a government pawn. He was also accused of blacklisting commentators from appearing in bulletins during former president Thabo Mbeki’s era.

In 2017, Zikalala was voted in as the Veterans’ League’s second president.

He has openly spoken against the ANC’s decision to enter into coalition agreements with the EFF and would prefer the party to look for other partners to remain in government.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Grand Coalition 2024? Veterans’ League’s Snuki Zikalala suggests DA is better partner for ANC

Yengeni’s ineligibility to contest for the top position came after he was also ruled out of the running to become a member of the mother body’s National Executive Committee (NEC) at the party’s 55th national conference in December 2022 because of his fraud conviction and four-year prison sentence.

He successfully appealed against that decision, saying he had applied to the director-general of the Justice and Correctional Services Department to have his criminal record expunged. However, he could not garner enough support to be elected to the NEC.

Yengeni is part of a grouping within the governing party who have openly expressed their anti-Ramaphosa stance and he has on many occasions backed former president Jacob Zuma and the expelled former ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.

The new ANC Veterans’ League leaders elected over the weekend also include Mavuso Msimang (deputy president), Ilva Mackay Langa (secretary-general), Connie September (deputy secretary-general) and Fazel Randera (treasurer).

The league also elected its 27-member National Executive Committee, which includes Joel Netshitenzhe, Frank Chikane, Dipuo Peters, Nora Fakude and Sue Rabkin. DM

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