Msholozi’s use of uMkhonto weSizwe: Navigating the symbolic and political terrain

Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: File

Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: File

Published Jan 14, 2024


The revelation of the MK party, though unforeseen, aligns seamlessly with the years of corrupt and feeble leadership, as well as the persistent internal divisions and fragmentations within the ANC and its alliance partners.

The organisation's neglect of ideological coherence, revolutionary continuity, and a deficiency in political education for its members have laid the groundwork for the ANC’s self-destructive trajectory.

For those rooted in the authentic history of the native African liberation struggle, predating the negotiated political settlement in South Africa, and possessing a nuanced understanding of liberation struggle theory, strategy, and tactics, the debates emerging from the ‘Thuma Mina’ camp regarding the legitimacy of former president Jacob Zuma’s use of the name MK in his campaign to oust Cyril Ramaphosa are anything but surprising.

Given the severity and nature of the challenges confronting the ANC, such as the evident lack of discipline among its current leadership, a swift decline in public support, and the self-enrichment and individualistic behaviour exhibited by certain leaders who are determined to retain power at any cost, these issues are more troubling than the dispute over the use of the name uMkhonto weSizwe (MK).

These ANC leaders, along with their counterparts from the SACP and Cosatu who are currently expressing reservations about the use of the MK name, do not share the same profound connection to MK as Zuma (aka Msholozi) does.

Since the assassination of Comrade Chris Hani in April 1993, these leaders have shown minimal genuine interest in the well-being of MK. Instead, their engagement has been superficial, primarily aimed at dividing and asserting control over its structures.

Despite numerous pleas for their involvement in addressing the dire situation of MK veterans, these leaders displayed no interest and made no effort to engage in meaningful dialogue with its members. Their only interaction seemed to involve drawing a select few members into corrupt business schemes.

It was only after the announcement of the formation of the MK political party on December 16, 2023, and its public endorsement by Zuma, that these hypocritical leaders began feigning concern and interest in MK's welfare. However, this new-found interest appears to be solely a tool to counter Zuma’s political influence and currency.

Indeed, under Ramaphosa’s leadership, the ANC has witnessed a swift erosion of its support base. Various ANC structures, including the ANC Women’s League, ANC Youth League, uMkhonto weSizwe Veterans’ Association (MKVA), MK Council, and ANC Veterans’ League, were systematically corrupted and subsequently collapsed.

These structures played a vital role in maintaining the coherence of the ANC, ensuring ideological continuity, and facilitating the implementation of its revolutionary socio-economic transformation strategies in alignment with the desires of its majority constituency.

Despite the crucial role these structures played in the ANC’s history, coherence, and its partnerships within the Tripartite Alliance, Ramaphosa made no attempt to sustain them. Instead, he vigorously advocated for their closure, citing a lack of funds within the ANC as justification.

Due to their historical leftist leanings and socialist ideological views, which opposed unquestioning allegiance to Western imperial perspectives on state administration design in Africa, these structures were intentionally discouraged, sabotaged and dismantled. This was done to address and placate concerns from white monopoly capital, which was overly focused on maintaining the privileged status of the white minority and maximising profits at any cost.

Concerned by recent developments in the country and the dwindling support for his presidency, Ramaphosa had hastily revived the aforementioned structures to aid his efforts to retain power and fulfil his commitments to the white capital backers of his presidential campaigns.

The Thuma Mina camp contends that by aligning himself with another political party, the former ANC president has effectively expelled himself from the ANC. However, this argument overlooks Msholozi's clear intention, as an ANC liberation struggle veteran, not to abandon the ANC to corrupt comrades and their white puppet masters. Instead, his goal is to rescue both the ANC and the country from the grip of Ramaphosa’s discredited administration controlled by white monopoly capital.

The former commander-in-chief, Msholozi, calls on loyal cadres dedicated to the liberation of Africans to intervene and reclaim the ANC from comrades who have hijacked its leadership structures with the intention of weakening the movement from within.

Critics have claimed that part of their strategy aims to undermine the party’s commitment to implementing a genuine socio-economic transformation programme, seemingly paving the way for a complete takeover of the country’s administration by the values of white monopoly capital, as exemplified by the racist neo-liberal DA.

There is widespread belief that under the current administration, the ANC has reached an all-time low, entangled in a series of scandals and recycling empty promises that yield no results. It is evident that under Ramaphosa, the ANC and the country will continue to suffer without relief.

Not long ago, the ANC failed to pay staff salaries and subsequently laid off several employees. Recently, a High Court issued a judgment against the ANC for its failure to fulfil payments owed to an events management company, Ezulweni Investments, amounting to R105 million.

The ANC, under Ramaphosa’s Thuma Mina agents, had engaged Ezulweni Investments for services related to Ramaphosa’s 2019 presidential election campaign. Following the court ruling, the Sheriff of the High Court conducted a raid on its head office in Johannesburg, and the ANC faced the looming threat of bankruptcy when it neglected to respond to the judgment.

The potential embarrassment of closure was averted through the intervention of a group of mysterious businessmen. Despite weeks of vehement denials by its secretary-general, Fikile Mbalula, known for his political immaturity and a tendency to speak without thoughtful consideration, the ANC narrowly escaped the consequences. Mbalula’s actions have been criticised for tarnishing the office of the ANC secretary-general and undermining the overall image of the party.

Given that the majority of the MK party’s support originates from within the ranks of the ANC, members of the Tripartite Alliance partners, and economically marginalised native South Africans, the ANC’s argument regarding the use of the name MK appears to be a diversion tactic. This serves to sidestep addressing the real issue – the power dynamics that have plagued South Africa throughout Ramaphosa’s history in government.

Rather than confronting its internal challenges, the Ramaphosa administration, led by the politically discredited secretary-general, has chosen to resort to public denials and meaningless semantics. This strategy seems designed to confuse the majority and deflect attention from the significant challenge posed by the MK party, which is further eroding the ANC’s already diminishing support base.

Against the backdrop of Ramaphosa’s systematic neglect of crucial ANC national conference resolutions, his absence of a people-driven political ideology, years of a self-serving association with white monopoly capital advocates, the decay that has permeated the ANC since his well-funded ascension is undeniable. It is now evident that the ANC, along with Cosatu and the SACP, is openly and shamelessly led by individuals branded as traitors, self-serving turncoats, and agents of white capital.

Given these circumstances, it becomes challenging to dispute the resounding support voiced by the masses for the sudden emergence of the MK party on the tumultuous political landscape as well as the concerns raised by Zuma. To the racially profiled and economically marginalised majority of native Africans, Zuma embodies hope – an emotion they no longer associate with the ANC. He presents a viable alternative to the current morally bankrupt ANC-led government.

As one of the senior and most recognised veterans of the liberation struggle, Zuma, now the face of MK, symbolises the hope and trust that the subjugated native African majority once vested in the ANC. To the oppressed majority, the former president presents a compelling alternative to the corrupt administration funded by white monopoly capital under Ramaphosa.

In contrast to Ramaphosa, Zuma does not depend on financial aid and endorsement from racist corporate entities in white South Africa to regain the support and trust of the people. This was evident in the substantial support he garnered during his recent roadshow across every province he visited.

Coupled with his charisma and ease in connecting with the masses – speaking the language of the African majority without any shame about his Africanness – Zuma emerges as the clear choice for president among the people. This is a quality not evident in Ramaphosa, who has shown a propensity to align with the language of white mine bosses and captains of industry.

The meteoric ascent of the MK party, spearheaded by Zuma, has unsettled numerous elite gatekeepers both within and beyond the ANC. Many among them had leveraged the UDF, NUM and Cosatu to infiltrate the ANC and SACP under the directives of their white puppeteers. This includes ostentatious and self-serving leaders of chapter nine institutions, NGOs and foundations whose primary agenda revolves around undermining and discrediting authentic native African perspectives. These liberal entities have reaped the rewards and kickbacks associated with supporting and defending Ramaphosa’s corruption. Consequently, it is understandable that they are apprehensive about a future where they no longer benefit from the shield and gains of Ramaphosa’s unethical conduct.

The resounding support for the MK Party, positioning itself as a formidable force set on ousting the Ramaphosa administration, has also disrupted the plans of the neo-liberal Moonshot Pact or Multi-Party Charter for South Africa project.

The Moonshot Pact project involves a hastily formed coalition of smaller, traditionally conservative parties, spearheaded by the white-dominated DA. Notable members include ActionSA, the Inkatha Freedom Party, Freedom Front Plus, United Independent Movement, Spectrum National Party, and the Independent South African National Civic Organisation.

At its core, this new coalition project aims to oust the ANC from power while maintaining Ramaphosa as the country's president or replacing him with the DA leader, John Steenhuisen – whose brainchild is the ill-fated Moonshot Pact. Another objective is to counter the growing influence and support for the EFF and undermine the possibility of a robust ANC-EFF coalition government.

Allegations linking the Moonshot Pact or Multi-Party Charter for South Africa to George Soros, a friend of Ramaphosa, have surfaced. There are also rumours suggesting that the coalition project is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, an NGO allegedly linked to the CIA and supported by the US State Department and its Regime Change Project Fund in Africa.

The reverberation of shock, horror and fear over Zuma’s potential return echoes through the corridors of mainstream media outlets and their associates. They attempt to downplay his comeback as mere buffoonery, dismissing it as a non-threat. However, this façade fails to conceal their growing unease, evident in the stream of undermining headlines, badly written satirical pieces, and socially engineered opinions aimed at aligning South Africans with neo-liberal ideology.

Despite their hand-wringing and feeble attempts at undermining the MK party, it is not unprecedented for a former president to re-enter active political participation and seek office, especially when current state leaders are perceived as corrupt and oblivious to the plight of the dispossessed majority, necessitating their removal.

Zuma pledges to undertake precisely that, beginning with Ramaphosa and his associates, and it appears the majority public agrees. There is a consensus that Ramaphosa and his cronies must be methodically ousted from office, as they represent the cancer steadily eroding the ANC and its Tripartite Alliance partners.

For the perpetually marginalised majority of native Africans, the debate over whether Msholozi has the right to use the name MK in his quest to oust Ramaphosa is of little consequence. Their primary concern lies in the consistent empty rhetoric of current ANC leaders, the party’s reluctance to acknowledge and combat corruption within its ranks, and the resulting deepening of poverty among the majority, contrasted with the opulent lifestyles of elite members of the Ramaphosa administration and their families.

While Msholozi has demonstrated political resilience, the challenge ahead lies in navigating the intricate web of international and local agreements signed by Ramaphosa during his presidency. Simultaneously, he must address the expectations of a collective eagerly calling for his return to office. The outcome of this intricate balancing act remains uncertain.

What is certain is that the emergence of the MK party led by Jacob Zuma injects a renewed sense of historical significance and resonance into South African politics. Zuma, as a distinguished veteran of the liberation struggle, embodies a connection to the aspirations and struggles of the marginalised majority.

The debate over the use of the MK name is not merely a legal matter; it encapsulates the rightful claim of those who have long fought for the nation’s freedom. As Zuma navigates these political currents, he not only contends for political influence but also champions a narrative steeped in the legacy of resistance and the quest for a government attuned to the needs of the majority.

In this context, the issues surrounding the MK name transcend legalities, speaking to a broader quest for justice and recognition in South Africa’s political arena.

Aluta continua!

Sipho Singiswa is a social justice activist film-maker, political analyst and co-founder of Media For Justice. He is also a former 1976 student leader, ex-Robben Island political prisoner and MK underground operative. | The Star