OMRY MAKGOALE: 59 years of uMkhonto weSizwe & the MKMVA's need for reform
Fifty-nine years after uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) was formed, it has become little more than a brand used to access social grants by those connected to the ruling slates and factions.
The leadership of the uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) - under Kebby Maphatsoe, Carl Niehaus, Des Van Rooyen and Bafana Mathabe - benefits only a small ruling faction, the so-called radical economic transformation machinery. MKMVA leaders are apparently elected by the branches and regions of MKMVA, but all the problems of captured branches in the ANC are equally displayed in the MKMVA structures. Even today, MKMVA branches and regions are continuing to recruit, despite the fact that the armed struggle was suspended 30 years ago and MK integrated into South African National Defence Force (SANDF) 26 years ago.
Yet it is normal to find a 30-year-old man classified as a veteran and falsely recruited, instead of them serving in the SANDF. Unemployed and uneducated youths easily join MKMVA as veterans to access resources initially destined for MK veterans, provided they serve its corrupt leadership. This is phoney membership recruited for corrupt purposes, which disgraces the history and morality of our struggle.
It must end, and the MKMVA must be reformed.
MK was created as the armed wing of ANC and SACP to fight against Apartheid and white colonial rule. In 1994, the armed struggle against apartheid and colonial rule came to an end, and from then onwards its original mission was no longer its centre. Various MK-related trusts were formed with the hope they would take care of the general welfare of veterans, their spouses and their children. The intentions of forming the trusts were good but no one cared to make sure that the trust's benefits were received by its intended beneficiaries - the former MK veterans. Instead, these trusts have been abused by various ANC and MK officials. They have supported few former MK veterans - only those connected to the ruling slates and factions. These trusts are now used to benefit relatives and friends of various officials, while the intended beneficiaries are left in limbo.
The Department of Military Veterans, run by MKMVA-aligned officials and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, has failed year-in-year-out to pay school fees in time of former MK veterans' children. Every year, the department has to be begged to do its work.
Former MK veterans have initiated a group to take their plight to the courts in an attempt to force department officials to pay school fees for their children.
The MK brand today is abused by nefarious individuals who do not care for former veterans but only promote their own interests under the cover of their radical economic transformation machinery objectives.
MKMVA has been used to fight slate and faction battles inside the ANC, government and the state. The current MKMVA leadership is loyal to former president Jacob Zuma and they serve his interests, and are beneficiaries of the Guptas.
The MK Council, under retired General Siphiwe Nyanda and current Deputy Defence Minister Thabang Makwetla, was formed after acknowledging that the MKMVA was loyal to former president Zuma even when he was no longer ANC president.
Relations between the MKMVA and MK Council are a reflection of the ANC today, divided along factional and slate lines, all fighting for the spoils of the country located in the Treasury.
These structures today are a caricature of the once disciplined revolutionary army. It was at the outset joined by blood and sacrifices, but today it is supported by young recruits, unemployed with the hope of accessing welfare and financial benefits paid by the state.
What is left of MKMVA are parasites sucking the remains of the heroic body that was once treasured by martyrs and the people of South Africa.
Reform of MKMVA is a necessity.
Omry Makgoale is an ANC rank and file member. These are his personal views.