Are the Veterans not doing more harm to the ANC?

  – at one point does claimed love destroy if not kill?-


The music group Scorpions sing a song “When love kills love, suddenly I think I always knew, I had my share of mistakes. Made quite a few. Finally I know and that’s for sure, I don’t look back in anger anymore. Suddenly the sun comes up again. There’s a new beginning. When we pass the end. Finally I know and that’s for sure. I don’t look back in anger anymore. When love kills love.”


I thought of the words of this song, when I tried to make sense of the very active statements, actions, caution, and threats accredited to a vocal segment of ANC veterans. It is perhaps not far-fetched to postulate, that the behaviour of the veterans in more ways in the present and future may prove more harmful as not assisting the ANC to find its compass. It appears it could become a case where love really kills.


We have long ago agreed and concluded every organisation or entity needs its veterans as a critical component of institutional memory, wisdom, and insight a collective synonymous with objective counsel and guardians of core values.


The challenge with the ANC veterans in this season is that it is not a uniform group. They are made up of very wealthy and duly empowered economic active individuals who have vested interest in the structure of the current economy. Equally among these are some who are politically relatively young to be veterans and therefore have personal ambitions to lead SA. In the ANC the only way to make the latter count is to avail oneself for elections at an elective conference.


The ANC policy on veterans is unambiguous in identifying veterans as those who have had 40 years unbroken membership. Whenever this was agreed, as the definition for veterans appears to have had foresight for a moment such as this, when the plausibility of the challenge of young veterans exist. In a pragmatic sense we must accept the veterans no different to others love the ANC, we should never doubt that love, yet we know at times love kills, as Scorpion reminds us.


An attempt at contextualisation and analysing the behaviour and actions, in contrast to the Scorpion song where there is an admission of mistakes, even quite a few, this segment of ANC veterans simply refuse to ever own up to any conjoined role, their definite leadership errors in this love affair with the ANC. They glibly will tell you we made mistakes but the prism of these mistakes are not congruent to the reality of the sum-total of what the ANC in their eyes became beyond their era.


They seldom if ever attempt an honest reflection on the period when they were leading the ANC. They adjudicate as the maximum symbol of order, principle, governance, morality, and organisational unity devoid of any blemish, stain, or any sense of contributing guilt.


They comfortably share in the success story of the ANC conveniently with claims of the Mandela era as the basis for their legitimacy, yet they comfortably distance themselves from the warts of the ANC always in snapshot analysis wanting to accost that blame to a specific era after they lost political power in 2007.


As an outsider looking in, I increasingly wrestle with the fact of accepting that the veterans have the ANC’s future at heart.


There appears too much positioning and repositioning as occurring from our veterans in this season. By admission of some veterans I have personally engaged there is a multiplicity of agendas conflated in what has come to be the so called veterans cause, as means to save the ANC. Veterans therefore do not all agree with the actions, statements, and attitude of some among the segment. Yet they will not allow themselves to openly rebuke those who speak out of turn in self gloat or swayed by another agenda.


You may wonder why I keep referring to a segment; I do so because we cannot accept the magic number being brandied of 101 who signed a petition constitute the fullness of ANC veterans. Neither can we accept that these veterans belong to the veteran structure of the ANC. These 101 are all individuals who joined the ANC as individuals and therefore have no standing as group except as a legitimate ANC structure. We all know the ANC know functions not with para-structures.


Some consciously use the 101 number as constituency, a sign of their strength, their power, and their authenticity, yet others acknowledge these are mere individuals brought together by different interests.


The veterans easily accuse the serving national leadership of arrogance and disrespecting ANC values. They are at pains to tell all that the current behaviour of ANC leadership is going to lead to the decline and ultimate death of the ANC. There narrative portrays a picture of gloom in predictions informed by an August 2016 municipal elections results where an approximate 3 million voters refused to vote for the ANC. This aspect is deliberately drawn out of proportion as a means to suggest the current ANC leadership is red carded.


However the veterans are blind for their personal and group arrogance as they claim to love the ANC, when they refuse to own up what the ANC has become. The veterans cannot see how their actions fuel the demons of factionalism a cancer that eats away at the ANC in a rapacious sense.


What is tangible even undeniable is the boisterous, arrogant behaviour of some veterans in attempt of usurping a leadership role. Their personal behaviours and undeniable emerging agendas appear to be doing exactly the opposite of what they claim they working against.


We all are in concert that the ANC faces a multiplicity of challenges internally and as government of SA. Whilst that is the case, it has become to easy to attribute blame to a specific group in particular the post 2007 leadership on the part of this segment of veterans.


Until now we are looking for a common intention of the veterans, beyond parochial interest. However that simply is not visible for if the veterans are sincere it should show in a singular edifying and healthy agenda that proves progressive devoid of typical egotistical interest or for some even megalomania?


This segment of veterans asked to meet with the National Leadership, meetings were held and took place as welcomed and I believe these interactions were progressive, yet there are veterans who seek to go beyond that for it is their inalienable claimed right, informed by the degree of suffering thrown in front of all of us all day, as if we have not all suffered under colonial and apartheid, to direct the ANC’s democratically elected leadership.

In a sense the segment of veterans constitute officials who have served in government and became a veteran group distinct in untested claim of them as custodians for this democracy and governance.


We must ask, is it the inalienable right of this segment of veterans to dictate the ANC’s 2017 calendar programme in demand of dates different to what was offered for a consultative conference? May we also ask if any other structure had done that would it have been acceptable? Why is this behaviour even entertained?


We have heard wild, claims, threats and empty rhetoric from this segment of veterans no different to from members of the MKVMA.

We must calmly ask can the veterans honestly claim their utterances are not bringing the ANC into disrepute? What is the objective and efficacy of their constant hogging of media limelight as a means to influence the 2017 elective conference is this acceptable behaviour? In a normal setting would many of the veterans not have already faced disciplinary hearings for violating ANC constitution?


Can a single veteran address ANC members through the media in a sense of blackmail and dictate leadership and if so by what power, since it at best makes up a segment of a structure of the ANC namely the veterans?


How are we to make sense of the threats of sending people to jail by a veteran as captured in the City Press of this past weekend, if they vote for people of their choice through what is termed corrupt means, typical ANC behaviour, and culture? By what super-power does a single veteran who joined the ANC like all others as an individual arrogate the power to threaten ANC members who must elect the new leadership in 2017, that they will not vote for this and that.


Perhaps fundamental to the arrogance of the veterans is disrespect for this sitting leadership; we must ask how veterans can expect to be respected when they afford no respect to the current leadership as elected at a legitimate ANC elective conference. It appears in adjudicating and condemning in disrespect the current leadership the veterans have ran a media driven and persona driven agenda, the question is how does this help the cause for unity!


Let us also pause and ask honestly can some veterans claim today an absolute innocence and being above reproach? Or have we truly reached a place where you can talk authoritatively when you once were questioned for suspicious tenderpreneurship? Is it a case of you did wrong and got away with it that’s why you are today legitimate in your authoritarian instructions to a sitting leadership?


Can we separate between personal anger, group anger, and the future of the ANC? Personal anger because veterans were offloaded as cabinet ministers and even families are not exempted from that anger of being offloaded? It becomes difficult to distinguish between personal anger and a just cause.


It appears core to the work and agenda of some veterans is the undeniable aim to bring the Pre- Polokwane political power matrix, however defined back into power in control of the ANC through the proverbial backdoor. We also must ask is that not again a contestation for political and by extension economic control lost in Polokwane. Is it not the intention to look forward why the comfort of looking back for leading?


I doubt if unity is going to be achieved because for unity to find meaning in the ANC there can never be scripted angels and demons, but people fallible and admitting their errors and agendas.


The behaviour of a segment of these vocal veterans confirms they love the ANC enough to kill it for their personal legacy claims, their personal self- serving aims.

Can we reach a place where as Scorpion sings…the sun comes up again? Can we get to this …new beginning? Yes can we reach the place where we don’t… look back in anger anymore?



We must ask is the moment of ANC renewal not running the risk of being hijacked by a hunkering back to pre-Polokwane for the future of the ANC. Veterans cannot take us back because it was when they were in control, and they knew what we as ANC voters needed.


In the end the critical question remains can the ANC’s future be left to the control and behaviour of a segment of veterans that in this season plausibly exudes un-ANC culture, praxis and traditions yet loves it with a smothering love tat equally may kill it. We must be cautious because love can kill.


Clyde N. Ramalaine

An ANC Voter




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