Former Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) spokesperson Carl Niehaus has warned despite bowing out of the MKMVA presidency race, the frontrunner was not as clear cut as some would like to make it out to be.
"Yes, I can confirm that it is true, I will not be standing for elections as MKMVA president, but I will stand as an additional member.
"Who then is the frontrunner now that I have stepped aside? Your guess is good as mine, but I will caution people at this stage from jumping to conclusions regarding who will emerge as president; let's let the process unfold," said Niehaus.
Having confirmed his exit from the race just days before the MKMVA conference is set to get underway, speculation has been rife Niehaus' exit has paved the way for former KwaZulu-Natal community safety head Themba Mavundla to emerge as a frontrunner.
Mavundla, who was MKMVA provincial chairperson before the ANC disbanded the organisation's leadership structures late last year, was endorsed by KZN members during a meeting in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.
News24's sister publication, The Witness, reported Mavundla's one-time nemesis, Pietermaritzburg-based MKMVA senior member Babsy Sithole who has turned into his chief lobbyists, said he believed Mavundla was the outright favourite to emerge as MKMVA president.
In 2020, Mavundla sought a court interdict against Sithole, alleging he defamed him by, among other things, referring to him as a murderer in WhatsApp groups.
Mavundla accused his now chief lobbyist of saying he and other MKMVA members were killing ANC comrades in KZN.
It is understood they have garnered support from various MKMVA branches across the country as well as support from senior ANC officials.
Former MKMVA deputy president Taylor Nsimbini, who took over as president after former head Kebby Maphatsoe's death last year, is expected by some to also avail himself for nomination as MKMVA leader.
Last week, the Department of Military Veterans, together with the All-inclusive Ex-MK Conference Preparatory Committee, announced n all-inclusive conference of MK veterans under the theme "Renewal, Unity, Welfare and Discipline will be held from 28 to 30 April 2022 at the East London ICC.
More than 700 delegates are expected to gather in East London for the event, which kicks off on Thursday.
The conference is expected to finally unite members from both MKMVA and the Umkhonto weSizwe National Council (MKNC), including the entire MK community, under one umbrella.
The two bodies representing former members of the ANC's armed wing split from the mother body in 2016 and were later disbanded and collapsed into a single entity in 2021.
It is hoped this process of uniting all members will lead to addressing the challenges facing them, which include welfare, housing needs, healthcare, skilling, and educational support.