Mot­lanthe slams ANC

Pass­ing of vet­er­ans of Msi­mang’s stature a chal­lenge to cur­rent lead­er­ship: ex-pres­i­dent

The Star Early Edition - - NATION - SIVIWE FEKETHA

FORMER pres­i­dent Kgalema Mot­lanthe has called on the ANC to re­flect on what he called the party’s be­trayal of the sac­ri­fices made by those who fought for the coun­try’s lib­er­a­tion from apartheid op­pres­sion.

He was de­liv­er­ing a tribute to the late ANC strug­gle stal­wart Mendi Msi­mang at his na­tional me­mo­rial ser­vice, which was or­gan­ised by the party.

Msi­mang – a former ANC trea­surer gen­eral and the coun­try’s am­bas­sador to the UK – died on Mon­day fol­low­ing a long ill­ness.

Msi­mang has been hailed as a tow­er­ing fig­ure whose quiet dis­po­si­tion was ac­com­pa­nied by a strong com­mit­ment to ser­vice and eth­i­cal lead­er­ship.

Mot­lanthe said the pass­ing of ANC vet­er­ans of Msi­mang’s stature was pre­sent­ing a chal­lenge to the cur­rent ANC lead­er­ship to ask it­self if it lived a life wor­thy of the sac­ri­fices they had made or whether they traded demo­cratic gains for a life of “self-ad­vance­ment with no pa­tri­otic pur­suit”.

Born in Jo­han­nes­burg in 1928, Msi­mang joined the ANC at the age of 16 and be­came a found­ing mem­ber of the ANC Youth League.

Fol­low­ing the ban­ning of lib­er­a­tion move­ments in 1960, Msi­mang was among the first ANC lead­ers to leave the coun­try to es­tab­lish the ANC ex­ter­nal mis­sion abroad.

Dur­ing the fight against apartheid, Msi­mang was de­ployed as the party’s chief rep­re­sen­ta­tive to In­dia in 1968 and to the UK from 1985 un­til 1994, among other key post­ings.

After 1994, he was de­ployed as the high com­mis­sioner to the UK un­til he was elected into the ANC’s top six, where he served for two fiveyear terms with Mot­lanthe as trea­surer gen­eral and sec­re­tary-gen­eral re­spec­tively.

In a clear swipe at the cur­rent state of the ANC, Mot­lanthe said Msi­mang and his gen­er­a­tion had been driven by ac­tivism whose pro­gramme was “de­rived from a com­mand struc­ture that cham­pi­oned thought lead­er­ship” and at a time when the move­ment had been driven with “plu­ral thought and unity of com­mand”.

“In the face of such a mir­ror, we find our­selves faced with the re­al­ity that we are more than what we have al­lowed our­selves to be­come. With that be­ing the case, how then do we ex­pect the likes of Ahmed Kathrada, Fa­tima Meer, Nel­son Man­dela, Oliver Tambo, Al­bertina Sisulu and oth­ers to rest when the legacy of what they have fought for now sinks into the abyss?” Mot­lanthe asked.

Also at­tend­ing the me­mo­rial ser­vice were ANC stal­warts Es­sop Pa­had, Trevor Fowler, Mot­lanthe’s part­ner, Gugu Mt­shali – who served as Msi­mang’s per­sonal as­sis­tant – and his suc­ces­sor, Mathews Phosa.

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