Trevor Manuel blasts DA ‘cadre deployment’ and warns ANC it was doomed to ‘perish’ if it didn’t refocus
Anti-apartheid activist Sidima Kabanyane, the highly respected Drakenstein municipal manager, died on 1 November. At his funeral on Thursday, former comrade Trevor Manuel hit out at both the DA and the ANC for having failed to match the principled example set by the life of Kabanyane.
Former finance minister Trevor Manuel told the funeral of former comrade Sidima Kabanyane that unless the ANC learnt the lessons handed to it in the local government elections, it was doomed to “perish”.
Manuel was a close friend of Kabanyane, who died on 1 November at the age of 64. He paid tribute to Kabanyane, alongside former fellow UDF activist Noel Williams.
“The story of Sidima’s life is the story of a struggle to overcome,” said Manuel, recounting how Kabanyane went from a childhood spent on the “dusty streets of Mbekweni”, outside Paarl, to eventually obtain his PhD in organic chemistry from one of Canada’s most prestigious universities.
During the height of the struggle against apartheid in the 1980s, Kabanyane was a teacher by day and an Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) operative by night. He was kept in solitary confinement at Victor Verster prison in Paarl for 15 months. But it was at the prison, Manuel said, that the comrades used the time to plan for the future.
Referring to the apartheid government, Manuel said: “They did not understand that locking us up together would strengthen us. They did not understand that because they were a people without a vision, and their regime perished.”
Throughout his address, Manuel made reference to the Biblical words of Proverbs 29:18: “A people without a vision will perish.”
It is this fate that might also be in store for the ANC, Manuel warned, unless it can do as Kabanyane did and truly focus on governance aimed at improving the lives of the poor.
Kabanyane’s appointment as municipal manager of the Drakenstein municipality was his “dream job”. It was also, Manuel suggested, a “gift to the people of this valley” to have two people as qualified and capable as Kabanyane and his wife – Princess Gcwalisile Zulu-Kabanyane, also a PhD holder – willing to take up public office and serve.
But rather than being permitted to continue his work, Kabanyane was replaced by the DA as municipal manager – as part of the DA’s “cadre deployment”, said Manuel.
“They say they don’t do [cadre deployment], but here we have the evidence of them doing it,” he said.
He also hit out at the ANC for the fact that Kabanyane – who Manuel termed “the original Thuma Mina” – was unable to find similar work elsewhere despite his evident skills and principled approach to public office.
“Sidima wrote an email to me in about 2015, and he said: ‘You know comrade, I feel like I’m being slowly killed because I can’t do what I love,’” Manuel recounted.
The former finance minister suggested that if individuals like Kabanyane were allowed to do the work they wanted in local government, the electorate might have returned a different result on 1 November.
To look at Kabanyane’s life was “to know how it’s done and to understand how we have been let down over the last decade”.
Manuel called corruption “the biggest threat to our future”, adding that those who are corrupt “do not steal from the rich; they steal from the poor and vulnerable; they steal from the black child”.
He called for corruption to be rooted out in Kabanyane’s name, warning: “A movement without a vision will also perish.” DM