Resignation of ANC veteran a sign of more to come?

Mavuso Msimang. Picture: Timothy Bernard Independent Newspapers

Mavuso Msimang. Picture: Timothy Bernard Independent Newspapers

Published Dec 8, 2023


The resignation of ANC stalwart and deputy president of the ANC Veterans League, Dr Mavuso Msimang, has set tongues wagging with many political commentators indicating that Msimang’s surprise resignation could see more senior ANC members follow suit.

On Wednesday night, Msimang’s letter surprised many when he indicated that he no longer sees value in being part of the ANC that has failed to change the lives of millions of South African citizens.

“For several years now, the ANC has been wrecked by endemic corruption, with devastating consequences on the governance of the country and the lives of poor people, of whom there continue to be so many.

“Of course, the ANC did not invent corruption. We inherited a state that was morally bankrupt and that was built on the most profound forms of corruption. When we took over the government in 1994, we had the moral high ground, and the conviction that we would be able to root out the old-boy networks that had benefited from, and strangled, the apartheid economy.

“Yet, three decades later, the ANC's own track record of corruption is a cause of great shame. The corruption we once decried is now part of our movement's DNA.

“This has had dire consequences for the most vulnerable members of our society,“ Msimang said in his letter addressed to ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula.

Over the past few years, Msimang has been vocal about some of the ills bedevilling the ruling party and some of its leaders. When the Phala Phala farm scandal broke, Msimang, while speaking to Power FM, called for President Cyril Ramaphosa to step down.

This week, the Struggle veteran was at it again after he was quoted on Newzroom Afrika as saying, even though Nelson Mandela had wanted Ramaphosa to be his successor, he would be disappointed by his performance, especially in light of his failure to act on the recommendations of the state capture commission to deal with those implicated.

Speaking to The Star on Thursday, political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said Msimang, in light of the decline of the once glorious movement, was bound to leave the ANC.

“The ANC has been on a precipitous decline since 2017. In a sense, this was inevitable. It allowed itself to be led by leadership that has proven to be politically bankrupt. If truth be told, Ramaphosa has proven to be the worst president of both the ANC and the country.

“The mainstream media had invested a lot of resources to portray him as the best thing that ever happened.

“It didn't take long before Ramaphoria turned into an unmitigated disaster. The Phala Phala matter was probably the last straw for the likes of Mavuso Msimang,” Seepe said.

He indicated that the reason for Msimang’s departure was the country and the party’s political, economic and moral bankruptcy.

“As he intimated in his letter, the ANC is politically, economically, and morally bankrupt. This is a far cry from the party of Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo.

“Nothing exposes the party’s bankruptcy (more) than its failure to sustain the running of its office. It is ironic that a party that is supposedly led by a billionaire has struggled to pay its employees and now one of its service providers,” Seepe said.

Professor Siphamandla Zondi was equally scathing in his assessment of Msimang’s resignation, saying that even though his resignation was a surprise to him, the failure of the ANC’s renewal programme was at the centre of Msimang’s displeasure.

“Mavuso Msimang’s resignation was a surprise and a major setback for the ANC in the run-up to elections where it needs positive messaging about itself. But the resignation was not completely unexpected, given the growing frustration that Mavuso has had with the ANC leadership for years now.

“It seems that the resignation is a form of activism, in the sense that it is designed to convey a message, to say something both to the ANC and to society,” Zondi said.

Seepe indicated that while the country was burning, the current leader had used his office as a PR tool rather than an office of service. “The only thing that Ramaphosa appears to be good at is to avail himself at the slightest photo opportunity.

“No president had invested so much in public relations exercises. He has now become a laughing stock who is known for gimmicks, such as fixing a pothole on a gravel road or cutting a ribbon for opening a tap of water.

“In the meantime, the economy has gone to the dogs, thanks to the rolling blackouts,” Seepe said.

Labour relations consultant Thobani Zikalala had this to say: “I think his resignation in the broader scheme of things is not really consequential, but when a veteran of the party and for someone who has dedicated all his life to a party like the ANC (leaves) … his departure would leave a dent.

“It is also puzzling, because he was very vocal in the times of former president Jacob Zuma in terms of corruption, but he became very silent and did not take an active part in exposing corruption in the current administration. It is puzzling because he cites corruption as the reason for his resignation.”

The ruling party said it noted Msimang’s resignation saying his contribution to the party remains invaluable to this day.

“Further, as contained in our previous statements about public spats involving leaders and members, we reiterate our call on the veterans of the ANC to stop de-campaigning the ANC and work through the structure of the organisation. The leadership of the ANC, led by its President Cyril Ramaphosa have always availed themselves for counsel and direction by veterans and stalwarts,” ANC national spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said.

“As one of our outstanding veterans, Cde Mavuso Msimang’s resignation is regrettable. We all join the ANC on a voluntary basis and as such the ANC continues to grow. I am pleased that he has said he intends to continue with his activism,” President Ramaphosa said.

On Tuesday, speaking to The Star, presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said it was not true that Ramaphosa had not acted against those implicated in the state capture report, adding that Msimang's utterances on Tuesday had been exaggerated as he never said Madiba would not be proud of Ramaphosa.

“The notion that the president has failed to act on the commission’s recommendations is false and is devoid of any facts or evidence.

“Secondly, you are grossly misrepresenting Msimang’s comments on Newzroom Afrika. At no point did he say that Madiba would not be proud of the manner the president had managed his first term of office,” Magwenya said.