At the weekend General Siphiwe Nyanda presented a memorandum to ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, calling on President Jacob Zuma to step down.
He did so on on behalf of 25 former senior commanders and commissars in Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) both outside and inside South Africa during the three decades of armed struggle against apartheid.
But who are the sigantories?
Paul Trewhela – himself jailed for his anti-apartheid activities – provides profiles of some of the signatories.
General Nyanda (MK, Gebhuza) was a member of MK’s Operation Vula within South Africa, along with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Ambassador Moe Shaik, when this detachment was headed by President Jacob Zuma in exile. He was chief of staff of MK (1992), member of the Transitional Executive Council which oversaw the change of government in 1994, chief of the South African National Defence Force (1998-2005), Minister of Communications (2009-2010) and is currently a parliamentary counsellor to President Zuma.
Among its signatories is James Ngculu, deputy chief of Military Intelligence in MK in exile, and author of The Honour to Serve (David Philip, 2010), a history of MK, and Dr Snuki Zikalala, former managing director of news and current affairs at the SABC.
Another signatory, Jabu Moleketi was deputy minister of Finance under ex-President Thabo Mbeki (2004-08).
Sindiso Mfenyana was ANC secretary for education in exile and administrative secretary to Nelson Mandela when he was president.
General Nhlanhla Ngwenya was chief of the SANDF (2005-2010), having been in command of all MK forces in Angola (1983-88).
A previous version of the memorandum called for Zuma’s “dignified exit” as president of the ANC and of the country.
The current version notes that the signatories are “saddened and outraged” at events such as Zuma’s sacking of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in December It argues that under Zuma there has been “abuse of state institutions for ulterior motives”. The signatories “reject with contempt” efforts to malign the integrity and good standing” of deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas – who revealed he had rejected an offer of promotion made by the Gupta family of financiers – and specifically call on Kebby Maphatsoe, the deputy minister of Defence and Military Veterans, to “desist from further maligning the good name” of Mcebisi Jonas.
Maphatsoe – the head of the MK Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), who held no rank in MK in exile – alleged today that the signatories of the memorandum “want to cause mutiny.”
Alleged “mutiny” in MK in Angola in 1984 resulted in imprisonment of leaders in the ANC’s gulag, Quatro, and public executions. Maphatsoe and three fellow leaders of MKMVA are currently facing charges of corruption in the South Gauteng High Court issued by six applicants who are former members of MK in exile.
So does my article “ANC: A party under violent, criminal siege” (Mail & Guardian, 4 August 2012)
The MK commanders and commissars argue that they are “forced to speculate that important decisions of the State are subject to outside influence and unilateralism without any regard to the well-being of the country or our people.”
They state: “we have witnessed, amongst other things, the rise of factions and slates, the diminishing quality of ANC cadreship, the rise of antagonisms within the Alliance, the breakaway of Unions from Cosatu, the break-up of the ANC Youth League, the marginalization of committed ANC comrades, the rise of vulgar and unsophisticated politics within the ANC, the silencing of critical but necessary voices within the ANC, the wanton destabilization of critical state institutions, the wasteful expenditure of state resources, the devaluing of the critical institution of Parliament, the erosion of trust within the various arms of the State, the unprecedented rise of patronage and cronyism, the Juniorization of the State and the ANC and most alarming of them all, the use of the State machinery for the private interest of the few.”
They signatories state they are “most concerned about the increasing tendency of state capture.” They state they “can no longer remain silent in the face of this most undemocratic and dangerous of developments.”
Underneath the accusation of “mutiny” levelled against the leading MK veterans by Kebby Maphatsoe I have posted Max du Preez’s article from last Tuesday, “Was 9/12 the beginning of Zuma’s end?”, which provoked the attack on him yesterday by Zuma’s son, Edward Zuma, accusing du Preez of being a “bitter, white, old man” and suggesting he is an “agent” of unspecified imperialist forces.
The memorandum was followed by a public call on Zuma to step down from a founder member of MK and fellow accused of Nelson Mandela in the Rivonia Trial, Denis Goldberg, who served 22 years in prison.
The memorandum is unique in the history of the ANC. There has never previously been such a joint political stand by such senior commanders of MK, in opposition to the leadership of the ANC.