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The real ANC of Tambo and Mandela must stand up against the destructive force led by Zuma

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General Siphiwe Nyanda is a former South African military commander and politician. He served as Chief of the South African National Defence Force from 1998 to 2005 and Minister of Communications from 2009 to 2010.

The ANC liberation party is carrying a begging bowl, scrambling for coalition partners after getting just over 40% of the country’s vote. Had it acted resolutely against Jacob Zuma’s disastrous leadership earlier, we might have been spared this humiliating outcome.

I speak as a pained member of the ANC. I write as an aggrieved member of the Veterans League, as an angry member of the MK Liberation War Veterans, as well as a former chairperson of the uMkhonto weSizwe Council (MK Council)

The former deputy president of the ANC, Kgalema Motlanthe, penned a well-reasoned article in the Sunday Times on the issues the ANC cannot compromise on in seeking to form coalitions to take the country forward following the elections, which for the first time saw the ANC lose its parliamentary majority since the advent of democracy 30 years ago.

His reasoning suggests parties like the newly formed uMkhonto Wesizwe party should be out of consideration for the ANC to engage in discussions with as far as coalitions are concerned.

I make a less clinical but more impassioned and forthright political argument as to why the ANC must never countenance the idea of a coalition with the MK party of Zuma. The ANC must also dissuade some of its members from entertaining such an outrageous idea.

As a starting point, Zuma’s State Capture project aimed at undermining state institutions was preceded by the attempted capture and control of the ANC itself. This was to ensure that the party remains in awe of his leadership and defends his transgressions despite the evidence that his actions were costing the party electoral support.

It was clear for everyone to see in the 2014 national and 2016 local government elections when the ANC lost electoral support, and a few important metros, during his second tenure as leader of the party, that the electorate were not happy with the ANC’s performance under his leadership.

Read more by Siphiwe Nyanda in Daily Maverick: Twilight for a liberation party: It may be too late for the ANC to save itself

The stalwarts and veterans of the ANC and uMkhonto weSizwe in the form of the MK Council, even crafted a document called “For the sake of our lives”, which characterised what was happening under his presidency and the ANC as a counterrevolutionary tendency.

When Zuma fired Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and it emerged that the deputy minister, Mcebisi Jonas, had been offered a huge bribe to hand over the keys to the Treasury vaults to Zuma’s friends, the Guptas, senior MK commanders and commissars wrote a memorandum to the ANC in which we expressed shock and dismay at this decision. Fortunately, the opposition to this Zuma decision was so strong and widespread that he reversed the appointment of his henchman, Des van Rooyen, as minister of finance.

At all material times during this brewing crisis for the ANC, most of its leadership continued to defend his actions and transgressions. An important part of his arsenal to protect and defend Zuma was the uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA), under the leadership of the late Kebby Maphatsoe. They acted as though they were Zuma’s private army and spoke as though they represented the sentiments of all MK veterans.

When former MK members became convinced the MKMVA was using the name of MK military veterans to advance the personal interests of Zuma and undermine the values of the ANC, they formed the MK Council. They called on the ANC to rein in this errant association and organise for the unity of the former MK community. I was part of that decision and served throughout its existence as chairperson of the MK Council.

Throughout our existence as MK Council, we confronted the growing alienation of the ANC from the masses by pleading with the leadership to correct many of the mistakes that were weakening the movement, such as slates, which kept many good leaders out of leadership positions along factional lines, and gatekeeping, which weakened the branches of the ANC by keeping away those who branch leadership feared or were perceived to be critical of wrongdoing.

When the Constitutional Court ruled that Zuma had breached his oath of office, we called on him to resign and urged the ANC to convene a national consultative conference. Our calls were ignored; veterans were pilloried and called names; even stalwarts like Ahmed Kathrada and Andrew Mlangeni were not spared insults by the leadership of the MKMVA, who called them “empty tins”. There were no consequences for these counterrevolutionaries because the movement itself was on a deviant trajectory led by its own president.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Elections Dashboard

The ANC resisted many attempts to address the wrongdoings of its president and the MKMVA. The then secretary-general of the ANC did not seem keen on facilitating the unity of MK veterans that we were pleading for. Regarding our call for the president to resign following the Constitutional Court ruling that Zuma had violated the Constitution, the secretary-general argued that forcing him to resign would cause the ANC to “haemorrhage”.

Well, look at the ANC now!

It is carrying a begging bowl, scrambling for coalition partners it would never have needed were it not for Zuma and his disastrous leadership. Had the ANC acted resolutely then, we might have been spared this humiliating outcome in these elections.

How does the ANC invite back its nemesis? It has now seen through his very recent utterances, that even while he was in the ANC he did not believe in the National Democratic Revolution and the strategy and tactics of the party. He did not believe in a nonracial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa. He led an ANC whose policies he did not believe in. He did not believe in a constitutional democracy that OR Tambo bequeathed us; he did not support an independent judiciary; he did not believe in the will of the people, as he is now showing practically following the latest elections by disputing the results, which are an expression of the will of the people.

Zuma nearly succeeded in destroying the ANC from the inside. He was thwarted in 2017 at the party’s national conference at Nasrec. He has been plotting since then against the leadership elected in 2017. He and his other henchman, Ace Magashule, said they would wait five years to get back to power. When that did not materialise, they jumped ship to form their political parties to organise this counterrevolution from the outside.

Now that Zuma has inflicted so much damage on the ANC from the outside there is a rush to bring him back by his accomplices who are still embedded in the leadership of the ANC, so that he can finish his job of destroying the once proud liberation movement of the oppressed people of South Africa.

These attempts must be firmly rejected. The counterrevolution led by Zuma must be kept away. We cannot invite it back into our midst. These counterrevolutionaries and pseudo-revolutionaries have defiled our good name and driven away many of our supporters.

Now is the time for the real ANC of Tambo and Mandela to speak. Now is the time for renewal. Now is the time for the national consultative conference we called for, and which we were denied as ANC veterans and the MK Council. Now is the time for the ANC to purge and cleanse itself, and let those who don’t believe in its values to leave as Zuma did. Now is the time for the ANC to accept that the people have spoken and should never be taken for granted again. DM

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  • J vN says:

    What Zuma is now proposing is exactly what the so-called MK “Army” [LOL! – more like a criminal rabble] fought for; a communist dictatorship, where the Party has rights, but the people, not so much, and where the state owns everything.

    MK’s criminal rabble were trained in countries that espoused exactly the same ideology Zuma is now propagating, so the holier-than-thou hypocrisy above is hilarious. They were trained to bring about a revolution which would lead to a country looking just like Zuma’s worst fantasies, but fortunately they were so cowardly that they must be the worst so-called liberation army in history, and could have been defeated by an under-9 girls’ hockey team.

    The author, a Xhosa like Mandela and Tambo, is just sour that MK is a Zulu organization, and has shown up the formerly Xhosa-dominated ANC.

  • Corry Versluis says:

    Hollow words sir. ALL your voices were silent until the last few years of the 9.
    More poignantly, so against Mbeki you lot were that you nailed you colours on the Zuma flag. Despite abundant proof of corruption with Sabir Shaik. You stood behind Zuma. You championed him. In 2013 he let the Gupta plane land at Waterkloof. You were quiet then.

    Not only were you quiet, you vehemently opposed and crushed any dissent. Multiple votes of no confidence you rallied by the good captain zuma.

    If he had not outgrown and discarded you asunder, you would still be firmly encamped in club Zuma.

    So no, don’t come cry now. The REAL anc failed us 18 years ago. That is, if ever there was such a thing…

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      All the ANC needs to do right now is ally with the DA. I can promise you it will lead to a better South Africa for everyone.

      Everything else is just noise that will ultimately be drowned out by progress.

  • Graeme de Villiers says:

    This is the same tired old hindsight diatribe that always comes out of the wooodwork when the vultures start circling. Claiming that they were trying their best to do something about all the thieving and looting now after the voters have left, is childish and typical of the playbook of the crooks caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
    Please rather detail exactly what you authentically tried to do to stop the rot?
    This just smacks of desperation.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    A well-written piece and good to hear voices from within the ANC coming out unequivocally against an alliance with Zuma. Doubtless the comments will be filled with the usual sneering about Nyanda and others who have not made their voices public before now, but the point is, we need these voices now and we need to hear them loudly. Smug trashing of Nyanda, the MK Veterans and others won’t get anyone anywhere and won’t help deliver us from evil. The more we hear from the likes of Motlanthe, Nyanda and other veterans with decent standing, the better. I honestly hope those negotiating on behalf of the DA and other decent parties take a more reasonable, conciliatory and pragmatic line than the sneering, bombastic drivel we’ll be subjected to here.

    • Middle aged Mike says:

      I think you give the gravy boaters way too much credit. More than a whiff of shady tender deals linger on the general.

  • David Peddle says:

    Well the good ‘general’ managed to help destroy our railways by means of his so called security company which he arranged to ‘protect’ railway property! Guess what his contract was even too much for the comrats and his contract was terminated, with a result – these guys are so good with planning, no one was appointed to pick up the security mantle and there went the railways and their componebnts marching down the road to the townships and metal merchants!
    ” The new evidence at the Zondo Commission that Transnet gave a R18 million contract to a security company linked to former ANC Cabinet Minister General Siphiwe Nyanda casts new light on a R71 million contract that the Gauteng Department of Public Transport, Roads and Works (GDTRW) gave this company irregularly in October 2007.”

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      I assume you have the proof of the ‘nature’ of the “company linked” to the minister ? Hope you’ll share it with the DM readers or provide the references .

  • Malcolm McManus says:

    You and your ilk, are the problem. How can you still be a member of a party that has been disasterous for 30 years. What more chaos has to ensue in order for you to see the light. How many ANC MP’s backed Zuma through this ANC reign of debauchery whilst neglecting the masses. What on earth were you thinking?

  • Malcolm McManus says:

    Redeem yourself for voting for and being a member of these miscreants for far too long. Support an ANC, DA , IFP Coalition/partnership. Spread the word and get as many of your fellow members to do the same. Don’t let most of the DM readers tell you that we told you so in another 5 years time. You screwed up. Don’t do the same thing again and expect a different outcome.

  • Alley Cat says:

    WOW!! My fellow commentators, you are shooting the messenger. He details what he and other veterans tried to do, and I am sure he has proof of same. Whilst I too have a large pinch of salt at hand when reading these types of articles, I still believe that there are (were) good people in the ANC, who did fight for country over party. The true ANC veterans were often a voice against the excesses of the ANC, both in written form and in various interviews.
    Give the man a break until you can prove he is insincere!

    • Malcolm McManus says:

      He is not sincere. He is still a member of the ANC. As for true ANC veterans, I am taking a guess here. Would Thabo Mbeki be one of those on your list. Still supporting and campaigning for the ANC despite what they’ve done to this country. Have they no shame or morality.

    • Random Comment says:

      See David Peddle comment, above:
      ” The new evidence at the Zondo Commission that Transnet gave a R18 million contract to a security company linked to former ANC Cabinet Minister General Siphiwe Nyanda…”

    • John Cartwright says:

      His sincerity or insincerity are irrelevant. What’s important and welcome is that a senior member of the ANC has produced such an explicit and damning statement at just this time.

      • Middle aged Mike says:

        It would have been more credible if he’d done it before the election rather than after it delivered his party a beating.

  • Alan Watkins says:

    Wow. You can read and feel Nyanda’s pain

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    You and your mates in the glorious liberation movement all got good and rich off state tenders while it was doing well. I strongly suspect that your real struggle now is with the idea that you and your comrades unfettered access to the public gravy boat is now to be constrained.

  • A Voice says:

    “This was to ensure that the party remains in awe of his leadership and defends his transgressions despite the evidence that his actions were costing the party electoral support.”
    What a pity that this sentence did not end with, ‘his actions were costing South Africa her life’. A pity indeed.

  • Ndabenhle Ngubane says:

    Maybe I read a different article. How is Mr Nyanda the problem here?

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