Lukhanyo Calata, one of the SABC 8 and son of one of the Cradock Four, Fort Calata. Picture: Independent Media
Former minister Charles Nqakula has written this open letter to Lukhanyo Calata, one of the SABC 8 and son of one of the Cradock Four Fort Calata, and whose grandfather, the Reverend Canon James Arthur Calata, was ANC secretary-general. Nqakula was a journalist, a member of the Union of Black Journalists, president of Mwasa and a general in uMkhonto we Sizwe.

Dear Lukhanyo

I listened to you and watched your body language as you made your submission in Parliament the other day before MPs who have been assigned the responsibility to enquire, as an ad hoc committee, into the affairs of the SABC.

People who know you who may have watched your performance and, indeed, that of your colleagues who also appeared before the committee, and must have been very proud to see on display the talent, professionalism and skill we still have in some areas of human endeavour in South Africa.

This communication is addressed to you and, as such, I want to talk about you in the main, and not about your colleagues, whose input was also very inspiring.

I don’t know what the outcome of the enquiry will be but, it was clear during the process that, our parliamentarians were greatly annoyed by the goings-on at the corporation.

They not just showed sympathy with your cause, they also apologised to you for not keeping the SABC under tabs and serve as an early warning mechanism, which would have picked up and weeded out some of the atrocities that clearly exist there.

I also want to apologise to you, Lukhanyo, that I did not pick up cudgels on your behalf and the other comrades who raised their voices to challenge some of the decisions both the SABC management and the board were taking.

I should have done this, in the first instance, as a former journalist who was in the leadership of the unions we established to fight news rooms that were completely untransformed, in keeping with the racist dictates of the time, and also fought the apartheid regime directly from the trenches of the country’s struggling masses.

You reminded me of your father, Fort, when you courageously challenged what you saw as a wrong. I did not work with Fort politically. I mention him, though, around two matters in my biography which is now undergoing editing in preparation for its printing and publishing next year. Your strategic thinking reminded me of your grandfather, Canon James Arthur Calata, who was a big influence on me politically. I explain that relationship in the said biography.

The publisher of that work is one of my comrades, Mothobi Mutloatse. He read what I wrote about your father and your grandfather and has been directing at me a question which has been searing both my mind and soul. He has been asking me why I have not stood up to speak against the wrongs at the SABC so that I give you and your comrades more courage for you to stay on course as you fight the wrongs there. I also apologise to him that I kept quiet when more critical voices should have been heard on the matter.

The difficulties that have arisen in many pockets of South Africa’s political, economic and social make-up, have to do with the fact that the African National Congress which, historically, had become and was accepted by the masses of our country as the premier organisation leading the struggle for freedom in our country, has become a house divided.

I am among the many in the ANC who are fully committed to the movement. In that position, I can see that there are many loose bricks in the structure of the edifice that is the ANC. Those bricks are a constant threat to the life of our glorious movement.

Within the circumstances of the desire to rebuild the ANC, we are, most of the time, constrained and reluctant to do anything that can increase the cracks in its structure. That would be a great measure of recklessness.

However, we cannot be so overcautious to the point that we render ourselves ineffective and generally irrelevant. It is necessary, from time to time, to raise our voices to protect the national democratic project and provide, in the circumstances, a better life to all our people. Black and white.

Sorry Canon Calata. Sorry Fort. Sorry Lukhanyo. Sorry Mothobi.

Cape Times