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“No coalition deal with Zuma, ANC must call a special conference for a new mandate”

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 (MKLWV), as well as a former Chairman of the uMkhonto weSizwe Council (MK Council)  

The former Deputy President of the ANC, Mr Kgalima 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 we Sizwe 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 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 and undermining the state institutions was preceded by the attempted capture and control of the ANC itself. This was to ensure that the party remained in awe of his leadership and defended his transgressions despite the evidence that his actions were costing the ANC 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 lost a few important metros during his second tenure as leader of the ANC that the electorate was not happy about the performance of the ANC under his leadership.

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 of the country and the ANC as a counter-revolutionary tendency.  

When Zuma fired Nhlanhla Nene, the Minister of Finance, it emerged that the deputy Minister of Finance Mr 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 Zuma reversed the appointment of his henchman, Des van Rooyen as Minister of Finance.  

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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 MKMVA, under the leadership of the late Kebby Maphatsoe. They acted as though they were the private army of Jacob Zuma and spoke as though they represented the sentiments of all MK veterans.  

When former members of uMkhonto we Sizwe became convinced that MKMVA was using the name of MK military veterans to advance the personal interest of Zuma and undermine the values of the ANC, they formed the MK Council. They called on the ANC to reign 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 the Chairman 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 like slates, which kept many good leaders out of leadership positions along factional lines, and gate-keeping, 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 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.  

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The ANC resisted many attempts to address the wrongdoings of its

President and MKMVA. The then SG of the ANC did not seem keen on facilitating the unity of MK veterans that we were pleading for. On the call we made for the President to resign following the Constitutional Court ruling that Jacob Zuma had violated the constitution, the SG of the ANC then argued that forcing the President 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 Jacob 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 ANC. He did not believe in a non-racial, 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.

Jacob Zuma nearly succeeded in destroying the ANC from the inside. He was thwarted in 2017 at the ANC 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 for five years to get back to power. When that did not materialise, they jumped ship to form their political parties to organise this counter-revolution from the outside.  

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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 that we called for which we were denied as ANC veterans and MK Council. Now is the time for the ANC to purge and cleans itself of 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.

  • Siphiwe Nyanda is a struggle veteran and ex-Minister of Communications. He is also the former head of the South African National Defence Force.  Nyanda is a member of the ANC Veterans League; of the MK Liberation War Veterans (MKLWV), as well as a former Chairman of the uMkhonto weSizwe Council (MK Council)