Pretoria News Weekend

Umkhonto vets under fire from Mr Fixit

- @Ritchkev Ritchie is a media consultant, journalist and a former newspaper editor KEVIN RITCHIE

THE news from the front for the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Associatio­n doesn’t make for good reading this week. After marching on party headquarte­rs, Luthuli House, and then the Gauteng premier’s office earlier this week, to demand that Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula be fired, they found themselves wilting under a furious counter barrage.

The self-styled Mr Fixit resorted to his previous persona of Mr Fearfokkol when the “veterans” declared that he was more Mr Dofokkol, laying the Stalingrad-like devastatio­n of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) at his door.

It remains to be seen whether the handful of camouflage-clad protesters were actually as concerned with the catastroph­ic state of the parastatal and its infrastruc­ture as they were by Mbalula cutting off the taps to the outsourced security contracts which some of its senior members allegedly have ties to.

Whatever the case, the minister, also known as Mr Flip-flop as much for his kowtowing to the taxi bosses during lockdown as he was for his slavish support for NDZ (along with Jacob Zuma, ANC Secretary-general Ace Magashule, Carl Niehaus and Kebby Maphatsoe, among others), before December 2017, was having none of it.

He got stuck into Maphatsoe, deriding the MKMVA chair and revolution­ary chef’s military history, calling him a coward.

Carl Niehaus, the associatio­n’s spokespers­on, got it even worse. His entire wardrobe of dirty laundry was given a thorough airing.

Then Mbalula doubled down on all his accusation­s at a bridgeopen­ing ceremony in North West, skewering Niehaus again, outing him as Magashule’s personal attack poodle, while going full auto on the SG, Baba ka D and the much-reviled Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Just to make sure he wasn’t misunderst­ood, he then went on to a TV channel and repeated it all.

Meanwhile, Opportunis­t-inChief Julius Malema was at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court ducking an assault charge with his “ice boy” for smacking a policeman. Unfettered by any sense of irony, he was hell-bent on calling his ground forces to protect state property, including police cars, from angry white farmers in Senekal this week.

A quintessen­tial equal opportunis­t, he declared war at the same time on the MKMVA. The government, opined the EFF High Command inter alia, must stop giving “veterans” (many of whom weren’t even born by 1994) special treatment because they’ve had 30 years to pull themselves towards themselves. They weren’t even that special in the Struggle, it said. It’s been a ripper of a week. Mbalula’s broadside was unpreceden­ted, even given his much-storeyed verbal incontinen­ce.

The genie would appear to have been let out of the lamp, but what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Magashule has ordered Mbalula to Luthuli House on Monday to account, but will it even take place? After all, Magashule might have been arrested by then. We know this because he told us – even though the Hawks disavowed it.

What happens next? There’s been more drama, intrigue and bitchiness than Single Wives, Masterchef and Survivor all put together. Stay tuned.

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