By: Clyde Ramalaine
It confirms a case of the have’s and have nots
This week members of MKMVA continued their ongoing demonstrations and protests to draw attention to the disparity of inequality that continues to define the abnormalized plight of former freedom fighters. Their plight in many ways defines the reality of South Africa in the post-apartheid system of governance. That plight finds meaning in the reality of an entrenched racialised economy that despite having empowered those I long ago dubbed a buffer-zone of ANC leaders have left the masses in the squalor of economic uncertainty, far from the ideal of a-better- life- for-all as the ANC slogan leads.
State-owned entities naturally become spaces for contestation to give effect to the subject of economic redress. Particularly since the policy of localisation as adopted in 2015 sets out 30% of any project to accommodate the economically disenfranchised. This past Tuesday MKMVA led a march accompanied by among others the Truck Owners Union (TWU), SANCO, COSAS to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) an entity under the political oversight and leadership of Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula’s. It is an agency that under his watch and since his appointment beyond any doubt evidence irrational decisions that cumulatively resulted in a now destroyed and defunct rail infrastructure. Members of the MKMVA and its rightful sympathizers recently shut the city centre of Durban to register their case of neglect and disenfranchisement. This week MKMVA took their fight and protest to the seat of Gauteng government to make known their disdain with the lack of engagement on the part of Premier on the plight of ex-combatants.
In the aftermath of the Tuesday events that ended in much publicised public social media spats between Fikile Mbalula and MKMVA leaders, Newsroom Afrika and eNCA among others interviewed former Minister of Communications Simphiwe Nyanda and Veterans – League Chairperson Snuki Zikalala. It is important to appreciate that the aforementioned two regardless of what essentially represents the more recent MK Council which equally constitutes members of the former MK combatants. It was rather interesting though not surprising to see how Snuki Zikalala in his interview chose to lean on the ANC 54th Conference resolution that directed the unity of these two contesting structures of MKMVA and MK Council to define ex-combatants now in the veteran definition of the ANC.
History will direct that the emergence of an MK Council as launched at Nasrec in 2016 was set up as part of the Anti-Zuma narrative. It was thus set up as a deliberate parallel structure with no constitutional or legality architecture. It was set up for the benefit of the CR-17 campaign. To this extent, the MKMVA tabled their stance as it being under no legal obligation to accommodate an MK Council yet in the broader interest of ANC organisational unity it would engage.
Let me start by saying it is commendable for anyone to pontificate unity in a fractional and factional endemic ANC. One cannot negate or find fault with the adopted resolution since NASREC. Yet to pretend this resolution is more sacrosanct than all adopted at the same conference is simply precarious and lazy unless political interest defines one’s thinking. The NASREC conference known for its now bought state as conceded by even CR-17 insiders such as SACP Deputy Secretary General Solly Mapaila, equally so adopted perhaps more pertinent and less negotiable resolutions on the land question, a racialized economic disparity, SARB, etc. It would therefore, be fair to have expected Zikalala to speak to these resolutions, not in silos but the continuum of redress. One, therefore, expected the Chairperson of the Veterans league to firstly be apt in his analysis of the undeniable economic disparity that sees ex-combatants languished in abject poverty under an ANC led government banished to the abyss of helplessness and bereft of the opportunity to define their future.
Zikalala as chairperson lacks any energy to draw the real and surging linkages of the plight of the ex-combatants. For him it is about giving ex-combatants skills, this while appearing noble sounds exactly how white-monopoly-capital rationalize black economic empowerment. It starts with a narrow arch of blacks lacking skills so they must first be skilled to participate in the economic pie of a black-led government fiscus. It is right here where Zikalala and his crowd of elites are located, they think about the poor and disenfranchised in similar paradigms and parenthesis as their white counterparts.
Perhaps the second blindside of Zikalala’s notorious MK Council crew is their natural expectation to advocate for a united historical combatants league when they refuse to engage the material day- and- night differences and known gulf of economic access that defines an MK Council juxtaposed to an MKMVA. When will Nyanda [who is still angry with Zuma for being offloaded from a cabinet position among other things] and Zikalala be honest about the raison d’être of the MK Council? Given the genesis of the MK Council, its political motives and intertwined economic interests are obvious hence its utter lack of a grassroots footprint. The MKMVA’s miscalculation was its comfort in Mpumalanga under DD Mabuza who in the last-minute sold out. Had NDZ become president, the MK Council would have died a natural death since its existence in ontology is intrinsically tied to a CR17 campaign.
It does not take rocket science to advance the view that the MK Council in many respects represents the economically empowered elites in the ANC while MKMVA continues to represent the economically and opportunity disenfranchised majority. One may even extend this to the allegation that MK Council members may equally have benefitted from the philanthropism of a CR-17 campaign. Any unity of ex-combatants must first hurdle this undeniable and pronounced reality. Unity, therefore, cannot happen devoid of the economic and political contexts that define the two groups which are symptomatic of an undeniable internal fight of the ANC at an organisational level. A contest between the elites who wants a malleable ANC and the militants who want a radical ANC.
For Zikalala and his MK Council at a micro level, it makes somehow perfect sense to be concerned about the unity of structures because this unity whether they will admit or not will do more for an equally questionable MK Council which needs credence and credibility and based on true antiquity of events in the ANC are lagging simple streets behind the long recognized and functional MKMVA.
Another untruth on the part of Zikalala and the MK Council is their claim that they are silent on statements because they observe the resolution direction of unity. A more appropriate reason for their apparent silence can be located ensconced between a lack of any grassroots representation to mobilize and its economic vested identity.
It makes perfect sense for this crowd constituting the MK council to be concerned with unity in absence of problematising the ongoing economic disparity which a Nasrec 2017 in like fashion instructed in its resolution on Radical Socio-Economic Transformation since they are empowered and constitute a cohort or veterans that are not different to the 101 Veterans who also felt it their right to make demands from their so-called SA roles. Why did the MK Council not condemn the 101 Veterans? The answer is simple they could not because they are part of it in elite identity, political persuasion, and accusation of those targeted by the media and some as demons in the ANC. Zikalala and his crowd like the 101 veterans consider themselves natural angels and standing for what is right when their political and economic interest dictates they part of the new mlungus.
What Zikalala and the dubious MK Council are seemingly not appreciating is from an MKMVA epistemology unity can only be realized once there is an acceptance of the true economic disparities that define the masses of suffering South Africans of which the MKMVA constitute part of it and MK Council not. There organizing and mobilizing under banners of RET forces is not accidental, nor strange it is a natural progression and development since MKMVA members continue to scrape the barrel of this 1992 deal between apartheid and colonial elites and ANC elites. For MKMVA radical economic transformation is not an optional resolution but the thrust and thoroughfare to emancipation which can actualize unity.
It is simply disingenuous for Zikalala and his crowd to pontificate unity of ex-combatants in a vacuum while they daily remain silent in challenging the ANC led government to give effect to the adopted 54th Conference Resolutions in being picky as to which they take seriously and which they have relabelled as Zuma resolutions, their antithesis of leadership, crowds.
Zikalala must explain why he as a Veterans-league chairperson is not leading the charge for implementing Radical Socio-Economic development as an undeniable resolution? He warrants telling us why he is hiding behind COVID-19 silence to address the economic disparities that see blacks suffer while MK Council members are in the proverbial pound seats of economic opportunities. If there ever was a time to speak up it was made possible with the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent PPE corruption under Cyril Ramaphosa’s leadership. Is it any wonder why MK Council is silent? We can link the dots they owe an allegiance to Ramaphosa because his campaign to high office remains the only reason for their organisational existence. Meaning if he does not finish his term as is feared by him, their opportunistic relevance will die a natural death.
The idea of unity in the ANC, in my opinion, attests a utopia given the endemic factional context that is directly informed by the demon of capital. It’s the comfort of economic access that affords MK Council members to preach this cheap unity as a resolution while absent in discourse on radical economic transformation. It is equally nonsensical to want to advocate there are no structures or formations such as MKMVA and MK council. Zikalala and Nyanda crowd speaks from their convictions of the existence of an MK Council. The ANC long ago recognized an MKMVA structure as all its events attest. It much later acknowledged the existence of an MK Council less in its work but its contest for the soul of the veterans league.
It can be argued the MK Council is the real proverbial johnny-cum-late in being accepted as a structure be it in praxis or resolution. We must not attempt to re-engineer history or seek to manage it with narratives that are unsustainable. The truth is the MK Council was established solely because of the existence of the MKMVA, whom it considered as pro-Zuma and not the other way around. In a sense, it can be argued the MK Council realized that in the bigger scheme of ANC politics it needed to enter what is deemed a ‘veterans-market’ hogged by a duly constituted and accepted MKMVA which predates it by many years and in the acceptable practice of ANC organizational structure expressions.
Lastly, to maliciously personalize the MKMVA members, a recognized constituted structure, with hate for its elected MKMVA leadership and executive is deplorable, to say the least. MKMVA leaders did not elect themselves but were elected. To attempt muzzling them into silence on an opportunistic technicality of the unity resolution while South Africa is sinking into the abyss under this leadership is to be economical with the reality of what is going on in the ANC, an entity at war with itself because capital infiltrated it until its core values are pulverised. It is furthermore ridiculous to afford the MK Council an identity when you want to deny the MKMVA its rightful existence.
Unity, therefore, is not a person [DD Mabuza] as the Ramaphosa leadership sought to advance. Unity is not optional but unity is not going to take place or occur by osmosis in a vacuum devoid of the fact that the MK Council represents the interests of the haves and the MKMVA until now the have nots. Until this is understood and engaged there is no need to attempt reconciling these two entities since these represent at a fundamental level what is wrong in the ANC.
*Clyde N.S. Ramalaine Political Analyst, Author & UJ SARChi D. Litt. et Phil candidate in Political Sciences