James Nkambule’s broadside against the Chairperson of the ANC in the Province of Mpumalanga, Comrade D.D Mabuza and other comrades in his article: The ANC, The ANC, In The Belly of the Beast, December 2008, betrays a bitter and vindictive comrade who chooses vilification, name-calling, demonisation and castigation over fact.
While he claims to be the arch-defender of ANC values, traditions and principles, I will honestly demonstrate how he has consciously, deliberately and systematically undermined these lofty principles of the movement throughout his political life, albeit controversial.
Selective amnesia has never made a man honourable, and cannot make the comrade seem anymore intelligent in this instance. If anything, this comrade has single-handedly taken this organisation in this province to its most dangerous and most perilous moments in its history since unbanning. The abrasive and often unprovoked attacks on the ANC leasdership is consistent with the Group of Eight who took the decision to break away from the ANC in 1975 and were subsequently summarily expelled from the ANC.
This continued factional activity on the part of the comrade has the potential to undermine the unity and the cohesiveness of the ANC in the province. We should allow these sustained attacks on the leadership to continue unabated especially during this difficult moment confronting the Movement.
Readers of this newspaper, estimated at 40 000 monthly, ought to be reminded that no sooner had the Movement been unbanned, that Nkambule ran vicious campaigns against his own comrades, labeling them as double agents, effectively suggesting they were on the payroll of the erstwhile apartheid regime, their cardinal sin being to express differing views and opinions on matters political.
Ask anyone in his home town about these, to verify and confirm this painful reality. We exposed this lie to the chagrin of comrade Nkambule and in that particular instance hell hath no fury like a liar exposed.
Again towards the late 90’s Barberton was plunged into its worst political crisis, political mayhem engulfed our peaceful town and governance almost ground to halt, which crisis we are yet to recover from. At the center of this carefully orchestrated political storm and upheaval was none other than the self-styled arch-defender of ANC values, traditions, principles and unity.
Around the same period the ANC in Mpumalanga went through one of its painful, trying and difficult periods culminating in the infamous internal Maphisa commission.
The henchman of this ill-conceived and vindictive commission which led to the wholesale purge of comrades, who played a pivotal and central role in its mission was none other than comrade Nkambule. Provincial leaders were played against national leadership, plots concocted, lies fabricated and spread against comrades and factional battles fought in the province. The unity and cohesion of the ANC was severely tested. What followed were painful and disastrous ten years for the Province. Political careers were destroyed. Talented comrades were identified to be isolated, humiliated and decimated. The comrades whose names Nkambule’s conveniently singles out for praise today and perhaps for reasons I will explain later, were removed from their positions, including Cde, Matthews Phosa, Lassy Chiwayo, the list is endless. I’m quite certain that they are not proud that Nkambule is mentioning them in this way, for he’s being thoroughly and unashamedly opportunistic.
The most bizarre and preposterous political circus of our times were still to come, since our democratic breakthrough. Cde. Nkambule had made allegations that Cdes Matthews Phosa, Cyril Ramaphosa and Tokyo Sexwale were plotting to overthrow the then Presindent of the Country Thabo Mbeki. Cde Nkambule had alleged, through a stage-managed video tape of himself, that the three Cdes and indeed very senior respected leaders of the movement, had concocted evidence that Mbeki had been behind Cde Chris Hani’s murder.
The trio challenged then Safety and Security Minister, the late Steve Tswete to backup the claims or retract the allegations and apologise publicly to the alleged plotters which he subsequently did. The alliance partners were enraged. Cde Nkambule’s plot backfired horribly. He went into political obscurity and oblivion for a number of years and his membership of the African National Congress suspended. By the way the ANC Youth League did the same years earlier. This myopic plot and worst form of political thuggery, (Revolutionary thuggery in his own words) almost plunged our county into anarchy, instability and lawlessness.
Allow me to clarify and outline a few policy positions of the movement to you Cde James, for it appears to me there are momentary lapses on your part in respect of the ANC’s internal workings. Our conference at Polokwane, whose outcomes you abhor and detest with all your heart, on leadership and policy positions made specific pronouncements on the selection Premiers. Conference resolved that Provinces will canvass and discuss three names which will be forwarded to National and presentations will be made by Provincial structures and or delegations in their order of priority, and on the basis of their presentations as they would have been made, can top officials pronounce on who would be best placed to lead each Province. Period.
Your personal and intense hatred for the Chairperson of the ANC in the Province, it seems to me, knows no boundaries. Play the ball and not the man. I urge you to respect and accept the outcome of internal democratic processes in the ANC, that is if you understand them, and possibly have minimal grasp of its policies. The name calling that you have resorted to effectively reduces one to levels of political gutter. Accept that we had different views on leadership prior to our Provincial Conference. But once leadership is elected all lobbying groups disband. Leadership in the ANC is not domain or preserve of a particular factional grouping as you allege. Not a single branch of the Movement objected to the election of the Chairperson (Cde D.D Mabuza) and the entire leadership collective. Failure to challenge the tendencies you are displaying would be an abrogation of our responsibility as members and we will be complicit to and guilty of the worst form of political hara-kiri.
If branches of the ANC and indeed leadership elect to elevate Comrade D.D Mabuza premier certainly we should applaud such a move. Remember the kind of protestations from our structures when the current and immediate past premiers were announced, we said they were imposed on us because we had not engaged with leadership on these possibilities. We have an opportunity now to directly influence the selection process as provinces and dishonest characters come with all manner of distractions.
We will stay the course and will not waiver. What lessons, if any, should be drawn from Cde Nkambule’s experiences in the ANC. I submit respectfully that the ANC should allow generally its best of cadres to make mistakes. But the onus for self correction rests on the shoulders of its cadres.
Cde Nkambule, the ANC has offered you in particular too many chances, and these have turned into missed opportunities to correct your wayward behavior, and you have squandered this by commission. By the same token, and very recently, the Gang of Three through Terror Lekota gave a vivid account of where their old lover, the ANC has gone. If you think the love is fading and you notice a dramatic difference on the other partner, surely the relationship is bound to break down. Partners will blame each other and my advice to you will be to serve divorce papers on the ANC without working within it to undermine its unity and cohesion.
In the current Chairperson of the province you have an accessible leader with incisive and cultivated leadership, calm control, and dedicated commitment that should undoubtedly lead to highly priced qualities which all of us should aspire to. By the way ours is not a Movement of angels. Like everyone else, comrade D.D Mabuza has his own shortcomings. Through constructive criticism and engagement can he become a better and able cadre. This cannot be eventful, but rather part of an ongoing process.
Our glorious Movement has over the years, taught us the critically important obligation to understand the task of leadership, including the necessity never to tell lies, camouflaged as concerns that should ultimately undermine the credibility of our Movement. That the Movement of our people can be in the so-called “Belly of the beast” is probably a figment of your imagination and wishful thinking at its best. We have work to do and are determined to win the forthcoming election with an even bigger majority. Engaging in political trivialities is a luxury we can ill-afford at this critical juncture. Wishing you a speedy recovery.
Comrade Tseko Taabe – ANC member: Umjindi Ward 06. He writes in his personal capacity.