03/07/2017 05:13 BST | Updated 03/07/2017 05:13 BST

Mashatile: Don't Stop Engaging With The Vets

Paul Mashatile has come out against Zuma's criticism of the ANC veterans.

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The ANC's provincial chairperson in Gauteng, Paul Mashatile, is the latest senior member of the party to criticise President Jacob Zuma for comments he made about ANC veterans at the party's policy conference, The Star reported on Monday.

The ANC stalwarts wrote to ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe in April this year, calling for a consultative conference to discuss the state of the party and the challenges it faces. The ANC then said it would use the first two days of the policy conference to discuss organisational issues, but the veterans were not satisfied with this. They opted not to participate in the two-day discussions.

In his opening address to the conference on Friday, Zuma lashed out at the veterans, accusing them of thinking they are "bigger than the ANC".

"They decided, [the two days at policy conference] is not what they want, they want their own [conference]. It's like a real organisation and I'm sure they must be having an office ... In fact, most of the time they communicate with us through the media. They said to SGO [secretary general's office], they don't think the quality of the discussion is okay," Zuma reportedly said.

Human settlements minister Lindiwe Sisulu reportedly criticised Zuma for his remarks on Saturday, while the veterans called Zuma's remarks "shameful".

On the sidelines of the conference, Mashatile told The Star:

"My view is that the leadership of the ANC must continue to engage with the veterans. I don't think we should tire, I don't think we should fight in the public space and in newspapers.

"I think, beyond this conference, the president and the NEC must call the veterans and find solutions – we need them."

The veterans reportedly said they were "totally perplexed by the bizarre and dishonest statements by the president...".

"We totally reject these assertions by the president and believe he knows what they told the delegates to the conference, and through the media, the South African public at large, about the stalwarts and veterans is patently untrue. He will not be able to produce a shred of evidence to support the shameful statements," they said.