South Africa


MKMVA plans to hold a conference — despite having been disbanded by the ANC

MKMVA plans to hold a conference — despite having been disbanded by the ANC
Lieutenant-General Zimpande Msimang (right) at the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association media briefing on 3 February 2022 in Johannesburg. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sharon Seretlo)

The disbanded Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association announced on Thursday at Luthuli House in Johannesburg that it would hold a conference from 24 to 27 March.

The group said the decision to hold a conference stemmed from the ANC conference held in December at Nasrec, where a resolution on the unification of ex-MK combatants was taken.

The group said that as a result of this, the ANC’s National Working Committee appointed a preparatory committee tasked with planning the conference.

The preparatory committee comprises Zimpande Msimang, Zolile Nqose, Keith Mokoape, Jacky Sedibe, Jenny Schreiner, Lucy Ramasodi, Nzwaki Sigxashe, Des van Rooyen, Gregory Nthatisi, Dan Hatto and Masechaba Motloung.

“This conference therefore constitutes one of the important milestones in the history of the liberation struggle, with emphasis on transformation, reconstruction and development,” said Msimang, the committee’s chairperson.

Lieutenant-General Zimpande Msimang at the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association media briefing on 3 February 2022 in Johannesburg. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sharon Seretlo)

Reading from a statement, Msimang said ex-MK cadres continued to bear the brunt of the economic recession and lived in poor conditions.

“Many military veterans from the liberation forces continue to die and be buried as paupers. Their dignity stands undermined. Poverty, destitution and unemployment ravages their lives,” said Msimang.

The group announced that the conference would take place from 23-27 March at a venue to be announced. It would be held under the themes of renewal, discipline, welfare and unity.

In terms of who would be allowed to attend the conference, Msimang said all members of the (MK) detachments appearing on the database — or certified personnel register — were invited.

The preparatory committee said it intends to visit all the provinces to prepare for the conference.

Asked where they would get the money to fund the conference, committee member Gregory Nthatisi said this was not the responsibility of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) alone, suggesting that members would also carry some of the costs.

The announcement comes as preparations for the ANC’s elective conference in December gather momentum, with party structures positioning themselves for what is expected to be an affair as brutal as Nasrec in December 2017, if not more so.

Meanwhile, the MKMVA officially remains disbanded after growing concerns that the ex-combatants were showing factional tendencies.

The group ignored the ANC’s instruction to disband MK leadership structures and continued staging protests outside former president Jacob Zuma’s homestead in Nkandla in July last year.

The MKMVA has supported Zuma throughout his legal battles. 

In March 2020, some members of the MKMVA warned that there could be instability in the country if Zuma lost his contempt case in the Constitutional Court. Sixteen months later, the country was embroiled in unrest and looting that claimed more than 300 lives.

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, who had represented the state, had called for a two-year jail term to be imposed on Zuma for contempt of court.

More than 50 members of the MKMVA appeared again in court on 1 February 2022 after allegedly preventing government officials from leaving the George Hotel where they were holding a meeting in October 2021.

The case against the group was postponed to 17 May. They are facing one charge of conspiracy to kidnap and 26 charges of kidnapping.

Then minister of defence Thandi Modise, her deputy Thabang Makwetla, and Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele were allegedly taken hostage when the group of military veterans stormed the meeting and demanded an audience with President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In March last year, ANC veteran Mavuso Msimang wrote: “Nothing has caused more damage to the Umkhonto weSizwe brand than the reckless leadership of the MK Military Veterans’ Association chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe and its spokesperson, Carl Niehaus.” DM


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