Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: REUTERS
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: REUTERS

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa has apologised to the party’s stalwarts for the ill-treatment they received from his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.

Ramaphosa met the veterans in Sandton on Monday for the first time since ascending to the highest office at Luthuli House.

"The President said to us he is saddened [about] the manner in which the stalwarts were treated and he thinks that that needs to be addressed by the NEC (national executive committee) and of course he said it was uncalled for because we’re easing critical issues that were affecting the life blood of the ANC‚" ANC Veterans League president Snuki Zikalala said.

"The ANC was going down the drain and we were saying‚ ‘not in our name while we are still alive’, and he accepts that and he agrees there were critical people [who] were saying that we should not be given recognition and he said that shouldn’t have happened‚" Zikalala said.

He said the veterans were pleased that Ramaphosa was able to meet them to iron out critical issues, as they were the custodians of the party’s values and traditions and those values "must be guarded with their lives".

Zikalala said that they informed Ramaphosa that they still wanted a national consultative conference (NCC) before 2019’s general election.

"The President said it will be discussed [by the NEC] because it’s very important that you should introspect to see what went wrong and how can we fix things that went wrong within our own organisation so that we can regain the trust of society immediately because there is a deficit of trust [of the ANC] with society‚" Zikalala said.

In November‚ the ANC stalwarts held a three-day NCC meeting. The then-NEC under Zuma distanced themselves from the outcome.

The seasoned party members had spent most of 2017 attempting to host the consultative conference‚ with the NEC at first agreeing that it should take place‚ then insisting it must be done simultaneously with the June policy conference.

"We had a wonderful engagement with the stalwarts of the ANC. This was a meeting where we were reconnecting‚ re-engaging with our stalwarts and we were briefing them about our moment we were in now as the new leadership in the ANC and we had positive views about what needs to be done and the role that needs to be played by our stalwarts in the new dawn that we are in‚" Ramaphosa said.

"Their participation in the veterans league is really going to lift the veterans league as it is going to lift the ANC to a higher level. We are a very fortunate organisation in that we have so many stalwarts who are concerned about the movement.

"Prior to Nasrec [policy conference]‚ the veterans were concerned about the direction of their movement [and] they demonstrated their love for their organisation that they constituted themselves into a forum that was trying to egg us on to move in the right direction‚" the President said.

During his last speech in his capacity as ANC president‚ Zuma took a swipe at the party’s elective conference in December‚ saying that it could be "a vehicle used to cause more problems" in the ANC, after they called for him to step down numerous times.