MKMVA warns against wedge drivers trying to undermine our government’s united effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, and calls for Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to be defended from malicious and sexist attacks
4 May 2020
The Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) is dismayed, and angered, by the very personal attacks that have been directed at Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma for having announced the decisions of the National Corona Virus Command Council (NCVCC), in relation to the eased regulations around the Level 4 lockdown. Dr. Dlamini Zuma has in particular been attacked for having announced that the selling of cigarettes and tobacco related products remains prohibited.
It is critical to note that in terms of the Disaster Management Act of 2002, the responsibility to co-ordinate our country's national disaster mitigation efforts is conferred on the Minister of Cooperative and Traditional Affairs. It was in this officially designated capacity that Dr. Dlamini Zuma announced the consultative and collective work, of Cabinet and the NCVCC, that resulted in the regulations governing the Level 4 lockdown.
These regulations were decided on after a broad and open consultation process, which MKMVA in our press statement of the 30th of April 2020 praised as an indication of a sensitive and listening government, which is, "staying true to the principle of being a government by the people for the people". It must be noted that, as is obviously the case with Cabinet, the NCVCC is chaired by President Ramaphosa.
In this context the vicious and personalised attacks on Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is not only unfortunate, but to our mind far more sinister.
On a personal level the attacks in terms of their tone and content are misogynist and downright racist. It is not coincidental that Dr. Dlamini Zuma's age is constantly referred to in a derogatory manner, which in our sexist society is exclusively reserved for older women, not men. These attacks reflect the worst characteristics of our patriarchal and male dominated society, and they remind us of the vicious sexist attacks that Dr. Dlamini Zuma had similarly been subjected to in the run-up to the 54th National Conference of the ANC in 2017.
On a broader societal and political level MKMVA is convinced that these attacks are intended to undermine the ability of Cabinet and the NCVCC to effectively function as acollective, with the ultimate target to undermine unity in the African National Congress (ANC).
In this regard, the manner in which the attacks on Dr. Dlamini Zuma were articulated by two columnists in the Sunday Times of yesterday, the 3rd of May 2020, deserve attention as being indicative of a specific and broader campaign to undermine the unity and effectiveness of the ANC as the governing party - especially during this critical time where our united leadership is required to contain the spread of the COVID19 virus.
Calling Dr. Dlamini Zuma derogatively the 'Vector in Chief', Peter Bruce alluded that she deliberately undermined President Ramaphosa, and "organised a rebellion against him", outrageously claiming that she is now effectively "Prime Minister", and reduced the President to a "mere figurehead". Bruce pushes that the President should remove Dr. Dlamini Zuma from Cabinet, because "with every passing day she is doing more harm than good". This narrative was further strengthened by Barney Mthombothi who claimed in his column that Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is the "metaphorical power behind the throne", stating entirely wrongly, and in hyperpbolic terms, that "never has a President been so publicly humiliated by one of his ministers", peddling the pathetic and outrageous propaganda lie that, "rogue units in Cabinet are undermining" President Ramaphosa.
Bruce and Mthombothi are well known mouthpieces for the interests of monopoly capital (which is still overwhelmingly white). They are busy with the murky, dirty, work of wedge-driving on behalf of their monied white masters. Only a wilfully blind person will fail to see what they are doing, trying to stoke on divisions within government, and ultimately within the ANC, by pushing their fake news lies that President Ramaphosa's authority is being undermined.
The reality is totally different. Dr. Dlamini Zuma simply carried out her legally designated duty to announce the decisions that were taken by the NCVCC. Decisions that were collectively taken, under the chairpersonship of President Ramaphosa.
These attempts at wedge driving, and causing disunity, by isolating and singling Dr. Dlamini Zuma out as a target, are now taken further by a letter from the law firm Webber Wentzel, representing British American Tobacco (BAT) South Africa, specifically addressed to Dr. Dlamini Zuma, demanding that she must amend the latest version of the Level 4 lockdown regulations as promulgated in terms of the Disaster Management Act of 2002. The letter threatens that if Dr. Dlamini Zuma fails to do so by today (Monday, 4 May 2020), BAT-SA will take the matter to court.
MKMVA joins the ANC Women's League (ANCWL) in their demand that our government, through the State Attorney must defend the decision of the NCVCC, when BAT-SA or any organisation/individual takes the matter to court. MKMVA will join the ANCWL in support of the NCVCC, under the leadership of President Ramaphosa, to lobby progressive forces to join as Friends of the Court. We wil certainly not allow a company that does not care about the health of our people, and makes huge profits out of selling cigarettes and other tobacco related products that causes severe ailments, with a reported damage to our economy of more than R 33 million, to try to blackmail and threaten our leaders. BAT-SA is overwhelmingly white, and male owned, with 72, 24% in the hands of white males such as Johann Rupert and his Rembrandt Group, officially known as the Rembrandt Trust Limited.
MKMVA calls on President Ramaphosa, and all the members of the ANC in Cabinet and the NCVCC, to resist every attempt to sow disunity, to close ranks, and defend each other from malicious and divisive attacks and propaganda. It is only fair, and just, that the President, and all Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma's colleagues, should defend her for being so unfairly, and maliciously, attacked for only having carried out her designated duties.
Now is the time that we must take the prophetic words of the longest serving President of the ANC, comrade OR Tambo, to heart: "Close ranks. Be vigilant comrades. The enemy is vigilant. Beware the wedge driver! Men who creep from ear to war, driving wedges among us, who go around creating splits and divisions. Beware the wedge driver! Watch his poisonous tongue".
MKMVA also calls on all Cabinet ministers not to play into the hands of the wedge drivers, by talking about, and leaking, confidential discussions from Cabinet and NCVCC meetings, when their personal views do not prevail when collective decisions are taken. Cabinet ministers, who are senior members of the ANC, should certainly know better, and be more disciplined, than to try to canvass their personal views in public. For the sake of effective governance, and forging unity, we urge President Ramaphosa to excert his authority, and to take disciplinary steps against such conduct.
MKMVA joins the ANCWL, and all structures and members of the ANC, to apllaud the excellent work done by Cabinet and the NCVCC, under the leadership of President Ramaphosa, to protect our nation from the spread of the COVID19 virus.
MKMVA calls on our government, and our nation as a whole, to resist any opportunistic attempts to divide us. United we will succeed to conquer the coronavirus pandemic, and it's devastating consequences, and rebuild the economy of country to empower the majority of black (especially African) poor, in order to become an equal, and just, society.
Issued by Carl Niehaus, NEC Member of MKMVA and National Spokesperson, 4 May 2020