Johannesburg - The war words continued between Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on Monday over a decision by the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) to remove security companies previously contracted to guard railways.
The cancellation of the security contract was part of Prasa’s new strategy, which involved the insourcing of around 3 000 security guards to protect its infrastructure.
On Monday, the MKMVA staged a protest march outside Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s office and the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters, where they highlighted the continued plight of former combatants and their side-lining from business opportunities.
The MKMVA accused Mbalula of having helped collapse the economy as the removal of security had resulted in the theft of railway infrastructure, which badly sabotaged economic activity and disadvantaged commuters who depended on trains.
Hitting back at the accusations, Mbalula took to social media on Monday and questioned the MKMVA’s motive for the protest and its interest in the Prasa security contracts.
“Prasa was your milking cow, I have closed the taps that is my sin you used to do as (you) wished with fake security companies,” Mbalula said.
Prasa was your milking cow,I have closed the taps that is my sin you used to do as wish with fake security companies. NINYILE— Minister of Transport |Mr Fix (@MbalulaFikile) October 12, 2020
Mbalula particularly singled out MKMVA president Kebby Maphatsoe and the association’s spokesperson Carl Niehaus and accused them of thuggery.
“They organise tired self-defence units and they call themselves MK with old Gupta-sponsored camouflage uniform even worn out,” Mbalula said.
He continued: “I have great admiration for uMkhonto weSizwe, great admiration. What Kebby and Niehaus are doing in its name will come to an end one day. I have less respect for thugs masquerading as MK, period! I rest my case. Ong’funayo makeze ndikhona (anyone who wants me must come, I’m available).”
I have great admiration for umkhonto we sizwe great admiration 👊what kebby and niehaus are doing in its name will come to an end one day ,I have less respect for thugs masquerading as mk Period! i rest my case. Ong'funayo makeze ndikhona .— Minister of Transport |Mr Fix (@MbalulaFikile) October 12, 2020
Maphatsoe conceded that at least one MKMVA member was among the companies whose contracts were cancelled at Prasa and that he was starving.
“I know of a company member who was doing business in Prasa. They were not corrupt. They applied like others. He is now suffering because of that decision and we cannot allow that,” he said.
Maphatsoe warned that the MKMVA would actively reject any future deployment of Mbalula to address ANC gatherings until he apologises for calling its members thugs.
“Mbalula will never address any meeting of the ANC because our members will go and disrupt him wherever he is deployed,” Maphatsoe said.
In their memorandum, the MKMVA called for the closure of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and accused it of political bias.
Reading the memorandum of the MKMVA before handing it over at Luthuli House, the association’s Johannesburg deputy chairperson, Maveleswazini Mabuza, blasted the commission and its work.
“We call for the end to the Zondo Commission of Inquiry. This initiative has proven beyond doubt that it had deviated from its intended cause and has now become a political process,” Mabuza said.
When pressed about the motives of the call for the closure of the commission, Maphatsoe distanced himself from the call and said it was smuggled into the memorandum without his knowledge.
“The drafting committee was infiltrated and I know who was responsible for that,” he said.
With the Western Cape High Court having now given the green light for Parliament to probe Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office, the MKMVA also came to her defence in the memorandum, claiming that she was being targeted.
ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe called on Mbalula and the MKMVA to use internal platforms to iron out their differences.