Hostage situation was ‘not a crisis’, says ANC’s Pule Mabe
ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe on Friday said the dramatic situation which unfolded on Thursday night, when disgruntled military veterans held ministers Thandi Modise and Mondli Gungubele “hostage”, should not be viewed as a crisis.
“It is not so much a crisis. Leading up to the meeting the liberation war veterans had yesterday, they came to Luthuli House to raise their issues on Monday,” he said.
TimesLIVE reported on Thursday evening that 56 people were arrested and are likely to face charges of at least three counts of kidnapping. Three of the people arrested were taken for medical checks.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of an election campaign in Tshwane, Mabe said the issues raised needed the attention of the government.
“There is a process and a task team led by the deputy president that has to deal with the plight of the military veterans, who have now organised themselves [as] the liberation struggle war veterans.”
Mabe said there was a stalemate on Thursday night.
“Comrade Gungubele, in his capacity as minister in the presidency, and comrade Modise, in her capacity dealing with military veterans, were to meet them to try to see if the issues they were raising could be addressed, but also give them feedback on the process happening at that level.”
He said the ANC was not at liberty to get into matters the government needed to address for the veterans.
“We are comforted there has been action taken by the police to restore calm and stability.
“We were told it’s not that the situation had gone out of control and there was violence, it is just that the cadres could not find each other and could not lend each other an ear, which is not helpful.”
Mabe said one thing the ANC always appeals for, is to make sure people listen to one another.
“If you are going to register your concerns, you ought to listen to the work being done by government to resolve the problem. If you do not, you will not know there are interventions being undertaken.”
Mabe said some issues the veterans raised were not issue the ANC could resolve. “For example, special pensions — what does that have to do with the ANC?”
On whether the ANC would be intervening when the veterans who have been arrested appear in court on Monday, Mabe said: “We will have to get a report from our cadres at that level of government because it happened when they were to meet with government.
“The ANC always looks at the best possible way to resolve issues without necessarily having to involve legal measures. We are hopeful that through engagements, we will be able to find each other.”
He pleaded with the military veterans “that “if they want interventions in their problems, they have to listen to the interventions government is taking to solve their issues”.
The ANC was not embarrassed by the manner in which the matter was handled, he said.
On whether the matter could have been averted, he said: “There has never been a capture of Luthuli House. At Luthuli House we were dealing with what was potentially going to be a health problem. We are dealing with Covid-19 and if you want people who want to turn the media centre at Luthuli House into a dormitory, you are not going to accommodate people there. That is a media centre, it is not meant to serve as a dormitory.”
Regarding unity in the party, Mabe said: “The movement cannot tolerate anarchy, people who believe they can come and hold the organisation hostage and its leaders hostage.
“If you want a solution to a problem and your problems are indeed genuine, you have got to allow a working dialogue. I do not think that is an embarrassment on the ANC’s part.
“The fact that cadres deployed by the movement in government deemed it fit to meet with them is because they understand matters involving military veterans require the attention of government.”