IN FULL: Ex-ANC operative vows to mobilise against Zuma ahead of no-confidence vote

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma reacts during the launch of a social housing project in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. REUTERS/Rogan Ward
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma reacts during the launch of a social housing project in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

I was at the Kathrada memorial in Durban on Sunday. In my old neighbourhood. The neighbourhood where‚ under the guidance of the likes of Pravin Gordhan‚ Billy Nair‚ Curnick Ndlovu and Siphiwe Nyanda and Mac Maharaj (when they infiltrated the country for Operation Vula in 1987) I learned my politics‚ tempered my angry disposition‚ and grew up to be a trained and capable underground military operative.

It is the city in which I was detained three times‚ interrogated and tortured‚ and the city in which the Vula Trial was conducted. Charged with terrorism in the old South Africa — the last such trial before apartheid took its last gasp.

Round about July 10‚ 1990‚ my two closest comrades‚ Mbuso Tshabalala and Charles Ndaba (we served on Vula’s MCW Committee together) were executed in cold blood — a few kilometers from the venue where the Kathrada memorial took place. After being tortured to the edge of their lives in Section 29 detention‚ they were taken to the mouth of the Tugela‚ made to kneel and then shot in the back of their heads. Their bodies were wrapped in wire mesh‚ weighed down with rocks and thrown into the river — never to be found or recovered. This is my Durban.

Nine trialists were brought to (the apartheid) court late in 1990. All of them proud‚ committed‚ revolutionary subjects of the ANC‚ both from its political and its military underground.

More particularly‚ these men and women represented the qualities of an ANC and SACP cadre of that time. Each of them went through the fire — political education‚ taught in “The Constructive Method“‚ mentored in the ways of being a disciplined‚ thoughtful‚ militant and selfless revolutionary.

 Two had already previously served long term prison sentences on The Island‚ and some had already spent multiple periods in security detention. This was a unity of young and old (youngest being Anesh‚ 21 and eldest being Billy‚ I think‚ 67)‚ men and women‚ with no regard to race or ethnicity. Just a deep commitment to a better future for our country‚ for ALL our people. What I witnessed on Sunday — seemingly orchestrated — was a blight on this proud tradition and culture. It was disgraceful.

The Operation Vula triailists were granted indemnity in 1991. They‚ together with hundreds of other ANC comrades‚ dedicated themselves to working towards a non-racial‚ non-sexist and democratic South Africa. A South Africa that would see an end to apartheid and that would usher in a future in which all citizens would get a chance to improve their lives.

What we have now is a serious threat to that historic mission. Some have usurped power‚ have begun to threaten our constitutional paradigm and are‚ it seems‚ intent on furthering their own enrichment.

It’s time to defend our hard-earned gains‚ and to do this within and outside of our movement. It’s time for a broad unity to stem the decay and speak with one voice for a renewal of our historical mission.

Starting today (Monday) we have 8 Days. Make them 8 days that shake our beloved country. 8 Days to a motion of no confidence. 8 days of encouraging each of my network to find and lobby an ANC MP. 8 days in which I will work tirelessly to persuade our own comrades. 8 Days in which there is a pregnant possibility of ridding ourselves of this home-grown disaster of a State President. A luta Continua. Matla KiArona. Amandla!

- Patel is a former deputy-general of the Department of Transport and was arrested for his role as an operative in the ANC’s Operation Vula mission




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