An open letter to comrade Fikile Mbalula
Dear Comrade Vutha!
I must confess that every time after reading your much publicised commentaries, especially on Twitter, I become deeply hurt and disappointed.
I keep asking myself how did we get to this point where one of our trusted and dependable cadres cannot stand firm to his principles and stay true to his convictions but could so much betray his cause, his heritage and become a political turncoat who even spit in the faces of his elders.
In June this year, you trashed Ace Magashule, a candidate for secretary-general on the (Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (NDZ) ticket and said: “Ace Magashule is a definite no no no, the man will finish what is remaining of our movement. He will kill it.”
With your statement on Magashule, you made two concessions.
You accepted that he’s incapable of becoming the ANC secretary-general and you also conceded that the ANC is moribund and in deep crisis, and therefore it must redeem and extricate itself from the quagmire of ignominy and shame it is entrapped in.
You have now changed your views about him and somersaulted as you always do. You are suddenly showering him with praises and see him “as a capable leader who deserve to lead the ANC as its secretary-general.”
Comrade Vutha, for me it is preposterous, incongruous and inappropriate to a shocking degree that in promoting the political fortunes of the NDZ campaign, you claim that: “Nkosazana, the choice of our mothers, the choice of the future in the ANC. History beckons.”
I must bluntly reject your assertion and unequivocally state that Cde Nkosazana doesn’t represent my mother. She doesn’t stand for what my mother stands for.
She represents the interests of the Zuma family, the Gupta family and all their associates. My mother will never choose her as her voice.
In fact, Cde Nkosazana leads a campaign that has brought together a group of accomplices, grand-style looters and parasitic hangers-on who constitute the political retinue to perpetuate the status quo and to protect President Jacob Zuma, a man who has become a political liability to the revolution due to his erratic, irresponsible and immoral actions.
Comrade Vutha, not so long ago you attacked the stalwarts and veterans of our movement.
A daily newspaper, The Star, reported that you launched a scathing attack on ANC veterans and stalwarts who want Zuma to step down and said: “President Zuma is not corrupt. His administration is undoing the problems created by some of the veterans. We can’t be blackmailed by the stalwarts who are filthy and stinking rich, because they benefited from BEE. If they have made up their minds to sell out, they must leave the ANC out of it”.
You went on: “We won’t be lectured by them. They masquerade as people who are genuinely concerned about the ANC, but we know they are not. In fact, they are masterminds of corruption.”
To remind you Comrade Vutha, as we popularly call you, we were both ex-officio national executive committee members of the ANC Youth League by virtue of our positions as regional secretaries of Western Transvaal and Southern Free State.
During that time we drank from a fountain of wisdom: our late president, Peter Mokaba, who taught us about the culture and tradition of the ANC.
Mokaba taught us that the veterans possess the wisdom that is so potent and so profound that it will always revolutionise the ANC and that, during difficult times, they offer priceless wisdom that saves the ANC from unrelenting bleeding.
He wasn’t alone. Leaders such as Rapu Molekane, Mnyamezeli Booi, Kgaogelo Lekgoro, Billy Masetlhe, Parks Mankahlana, Bachana Mokwena and Thabang Makwetla nurtured and guided us to navigate the difficult situations we facing today.
Since that time, we worked very closely as comrades and I have seen you rising like a star within the ranks of the youth league: from your election as deputy secretary-general in 1996 to the time when you became its president in 2004.
During your tenure in the youth league, you always acted like a shepherd willing to guide, direct, protect and point a path to the young lions.
During the difficult road to the Polokwane conference in 2007, you demonstrated true leadership and acted like a soldier issuing unpalatable orders to its troops.
During that time, you developed campaign grenades for us to lob at the “Third Termers”.
You meticulously prepared our lines of attack and when the conference started, a pistol was fired.
I marvelled how you were willing to swim against the tide; how you climbed the tallest tree to get a better view; how you cast your eyes beyond your toes while tripping on the obstacles along the way; how you became the north star to the wandering travellers and how you saved a crew of a sinking ship.
And despite waging an uphill battle, you succeeded in ascending Comrade Jacob Zuma as ANC president. You strongly argued as I did that the ANC deputy president must become the president.
Comrade Vutha, with such illustrious and impeccable record, how can you betray the aspirations of so many in our ranks?
How can you waiver and waffle at the hour of need?
How dare you blindfold and earplug yourself in the midst of such monumental crisis?
And how do you justify defending a president rocked by so many scandals and then insult our veterans?
I remember in 2009, you penned an open letter to President Thabo Mbeki, in which you trashed and pulverised him into tatters, labelling him “a conniving person who has betrayed the legacy of struggle icon Nelson Mandela and who was handed a vibrant and united ANC, yet at the twilight of his presidency, chose to betray everything that Mandela and those who came before him stood for, struggled for, and laid down their lives for”.
Your tirade against Mbeki continued: “In a moment of intoxication with power, you forgot Madiba’s wise counsel and allowed our glorious movement to stumble on the edge of an abyss ... How did the state apparatus become so embroiled in partisan politics that sought to rip our movement apart?”
Comrade Vutha, you concluded: “The National Prosecuting Authority briefing finally bought closure to a painful episode of your reign both as president of the republic and of the ANC, an episode one hopes will never come to pass ever again in the history of our movement... Despite the fact that you were a democratically elected president, you chose to run both the organisation and the country with a cabal which sought to commandeer everyone along your thinking and vision, which at times ran contrary to what the ANC stood for”.
After such a venomous attack that you spewed at president Mbeki, I am certain he was shaken.
Why are you today so quiet when the same movement of Mandela is now suffering from a terminal illness and has turned from a bastion of international pride to a cauldron of virulent species?
Why do you think that under Zuma we are better off than under Mandela and Mbeki?
You accused Mbeki of conniving, of abusing state machinery and of purging opponents but since Zuma took over in 2009, political skullduggery has increased five-fold, abuse of state machinery ten-fold, state capture hundred-fold and corruption thousand-fold.
It is strange that your sharp voice has suddenly muted.
Is it because you are now comfortably singing for your own supper and thus betraying those who stood side by side with you even at the time of need?
Have you forgotten that the first time you knew you were to be appointed minister was when the Guptas broke the news to you?
On the eve of the Mangaung conference in 2012, you rejected President Zuma because of his poor leadership qualities and questionable private life.
You said: “I delivered all of them in Polokwane, including Zuma. What can they tell me? People who suffer from political bankruptcy? I got where I am because I work hard. I have no time for Zuma. He has caused his own problems. He marries every week. He is building a mansion in Nkandla.”
Comrade Vutha, since the Mangaung conference nothing has changed except that you were promoted to minister of sports and later of police.
The situation has instead worsened with scandal after scandal coming out – the Guptas landing at the Waterkloof airbase; the Nkandla plundering; the Public Protector’s report on Nkandla and its constitutional implications; the state capture; the instability within the security apparatus and lately, the email leaks.
Additionally, statutory bodies are in disarray and riddled with incompetent and unqualified leadership; factional wrangles; ever-increasing corruption allegations; abuse of power to settle political scores, wealth accumulation by individuals and their families, friends and fiancés are some of the tendencies that have escalated.
Comrade Vutha, many cadres believed in you. They trusted you. On a matter of principle, they sacrificed their political career for you, including Julius Malema, who was fired from the ANC because he stood by you.
With vigour and vitality, Malema led an unsuccessful campaign to replace the current ANC secretary-general, Comrade Gwede Mantashe, with you.
You professed to be their voice and a guardian of their interests especially those who were concerned about degeneracy, arrogance and denialism, which started to manifest since 2007 after Polokwane.
Were you just deceiving them for your own nefarious, parochial interests?
You have thrown everyone who stood by you under the bus, becoming an architect of their demise. You have played on the ignorance and generosity of true ANC cadres.
You mastered how to create a romantic idealism and a grandiose dream while you know you can betray them.
Attacking our veterans in the manner you did clearly shows that you crossed the line and you have stretched it too far and too long.
When you say: “They have made up their minds to sell out ....” you refer to people like Getrude Shope, Andrew Mlangeni, Dennis Goldberg, Frene Ginwala, Frank Chikane, Albertina Luthuli, Wally Serote, Stefanie Kemp, Billy Modise, Zola Skweyiya, Ben Turok and Faziel Randera.
Your attack on them requires a combative redress of magnificent and equivalent precision so that you are reminded where we coming from.
If these vices are left to their own devices, our heritage is doomed.
The last straw was when you indulged in an appetite for dogmatic assertiveness and parochial vitriol by attacking the new deal plan as enunciated by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
You can even see that the new deal seeks to transform the ANC’s attitude to the economy, markets, state ownership, corruption, business, justice system, trade unions, public service reforms, tax and spending and to individual rights and responsibilities.
Your series of conditioned reflexes and tweets are like Pavlov’s dog, which yapped, whined and salivated every time its master tinkled his little bell.
I therefore comradely urge you to stop your hypocrisy and stand firm for the values and principles that Peter Mokaba taught us.
• Dodovu is executive director of the Aim27 Foundation