South Africa: ANC Cracks Show As Zuma's State Capture Inquiry Testimony Opens Pandora's Box

Former President Jacob Zuma at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, July 17, 2019.

Cracks within the ANC and Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) are starting to show as former president Jacob Zuma continues his testimony at the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture.

Zuma's shocking claims on Monday, that some high-ranking MK veterans were part of the apartheid intelligence spy network into the ANC during the struggle, have opened up a Pandora's box for the party.

The cracks may present yet another challenge for President Cyril Ramaphosa's unity ticket.

In his testimony, Zuma mentioned MKMVA council leader, general Siphiwe Nyanda, and ex-combatant, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, as alleged apartheid spies.

It has unearthed a long-standing rivalry within the council and the MKMVA, led by Zuma loyalist Kebby Maphatsoe, together with Des van Rooyen and Carl Niehaus.

The ANC's national elective conference in 2017 resolved that the MK council and the MKMVA should merge.

On Tuesday, the national council, which pioneered the call for Zuma to step down in the later years of his presidency, released a statement in which it said it stood behind Nyanda and Ramatlhodi.

The council's secretary-general, Gregory Nthatisi, said Zuma's allegations were irresponsible outbursts from a person obfuscating and ducking in attempts to avoid speaking the truth to assist the work of the commission.

Nyanda also called Zuma "bitter" and told News24 that he was considering applying to cross-examine him.

The cracks deepened when ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, a known Zuma ally, told reporters the ANC must look into Zuma's "serious" claims.

On Wednesday morning, to counter the national council's statement, the MKMVA's Niehaus called the council a renegade and factional grouping without any legitimacy or legal standing.

Niehaus agreed with Magashule that the ANC should consider Zuma's claims, adding that it had long held the view that Nyanda's role in the integration process between the former revolutionary liberation armies and the apartheid-era South African Defence Force (SADF) and South African Police Service (SAPS) was deeply problematic.

"General Nyanda presided over a process that called the members of the liberation armies by the misnomer of 'non-statutory forces' (NSF), and instead of proper and full integration between the liberation armies and the notorious apartheid security forces, the members of our liberation armies were in the most horrible and demeaning manner simply absorbed into the apartheid security forces and their structures and ranking criteria," he said.

"This led to a situation where proud liberation fighters were humiliated, and ended up with low gradings and ranks, and became subordinates to white racist officers who had fought in defence of apartheid racism.

"This terrible situation broke the spirit of many a proud liberation soldier, and many of our members resigned from their deployment/employment in the security forces, rather than being subjected to such humiliation. Many others never even got a chance of deployment/employment at all. This was, and remains, an outrage, and it cannot be described as anything else but that General Nyanda sold out his own fellow MK cadres."

Zuma's testimony continues on Wednesday.


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