OMRY MAKGOALE: The impact of slates and factions on the ANC and SA


On 1 December 2019 we buried Solly Mokoetle, the former CEO of SABC under President Zuma. Mokoetle had joined SABC as a general manager in 1994. He served under President Mandela and later was removed under President Mbeki, reinstated under Zuma and later removed in secrecy without declaring his severance package.

Known as Solly Mpudi in MK, Solly Mokoetle was a commander of Radio Freedom in Luanda in Angola, Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and Antananarivo in Madagascar. He was a Radio Freedom legend in all respects - trained by the Soviets in radio broadcasting, he was well trained politically in the history of colonial wars in SA, the history of the ANC, the history of the SACP, the history of trade union movement and the Marxist-Leninist classics. This was a well-trained cadre according to our definition as described by Che Guevara, the Cuban revolutionary. He rounded up his education in Canada with Masters Degree in communication. If fate was on his side, he could have been the director general or minister of Communications.

As it was, he was caught between the slates and faction battles in ANC and the government.

At his funeral, the rostrum table had Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the former acting chief operating officer of SABC, and Faith Muthambi, the former minister of Communications. This was a clear indication that the Zuma slate was owning him and in control. It became clear why President Ramaphosa's slate was scantily represented, if it was represented at all.

Despite his exile profile as a Radio Freedom legend, his present image of being a Zuma slate affiliate and supporter brought him only limited support from the Ramaphosa slate, as provincially represented by Gauteng Premier, David Makhura. According to the family, Snuki Zikalala - the president of the ANC Veterans League - wrote a letter to Premier Makhura requesting that Solly Mokoetle be accorded ANC provincial funeral status but Makhura did not sign that proclamation. As a result, Mokoetle got a lukewarm funeral.

While SABC was represented by members of the choir, none of the current senior executive members attended. ANC Orlando East branch supported him but their support could be misunderstood because some of them kept on singing Zuma praise songs, perhaps wishing that Zuma should still be in power instead of Ramaphosa.

One thing is clear in the current ANC: your previous struggle contribution does not count for much.

It is the slate or faction you are affiliated to that determines whether you get a prestigious or a lukewarm funeral. The apparent proximity of Mokoetle to the Zuma slate washed away his great contribution and caused him the loss of provincial funeral in his death bed.

What was surprising was that MKMVA leadership corps of the Zuma slate did not attend also. It appears that some Zuma supporters did not like Mokoetle any longer.

The problem with slate and faction alliances is that they change like the weather, and as the wind changes direction so do they. Mokoetle was buried with half-hearted slate support, with more from the Zuma slate than Ramaphosa.

It is unfortunate that after a great service to the ANC and the country, with his voice echoing from the studios in Angola, Ethiopia and Madagascar, he could not be fully acknowledged or appreciated for his contribution.

Caught in the middle of slates and factions, the echo of Radio Freedom departed into oblivion.

How could Mokoetle, the exile voice of the ANC, have imagined such a sorry state of the ANC and South African government today?

Omry Makgoale is rank and file member of the ANC. These are his personal views.