Unity plea tested as some show true colours

Mthunzi Ngonyama
Mthunzi Ngonyama
The ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and the rest of the top six have ostensibly all been working hard travelling around the country trying to put a strong emphasis on the message of unity above all else.

The first kingdom to be visited was King Zwelithini’s Great Place. We saw our political leaders shaking hands with the king in pursuit of peace and unity.

From KwaZulu-Natal the top six came to King Zwelonke’s kingdom of the Xhosa nation, Aah Zwelonke! – where the same message of unity was preached.

I can testify to it because I was seated right in front of them. The atmosphere was moving. We all sang and danced to the unity song.

About three days later, another visit was made to Nkosi Dalibhunga Nelson Mandela’s home in Qunu. It was a repeat of the strong message of unity above all.

At the end of the debriefing about what transpired at Nasrec in the ANC’s 54th elective conference in December, we were told that unity had prevailed over slate politics. We all shouted out that unity was the winner and unity had the final say.

For the first time, I shook hands with the new ANC president, Cyril Ramaphosa, just outside the hall where we had been.

I must mention the manner in which this happened – it was humbling.

He grabbed my elbow and hand with both his hands, and looked me straight in the eye, showing deep appreciation for us having trusted him to lead us to the promised land.

Around 12.30pm on January 11, the ANC top six arrived at King Zwelibanzi’s Great Place, Mbumbane. The ANC president made his report-back to the Thembu nation.

The AbaThembu kings played an important role in the establishment of the ANC in Bloemfontein over 105 years ago – a donation of 100 cows was made to feed all those in attendance. It was clear to our kings that another form of fighting colonialism was necessary – the formation of a political arm to take forward the message of achieving liberty in our land.

The establishment of the land claims commission and the recent calls to take back land without compensation that we hear today, are all a response to the call made in Bloemfontein on January 8 1912.

That our King Jonguhlanga Dalindyebo died in exile in pursuit of his ancestors’ call for our land was not by default, Aah Jonguhlanga! He took up the struggle to proceed where his forefathers left off.

The message delivered by comrade Ramaphosa wherein he stated “we are here at the Great Place to reconnect with the bones of our fallen heroes, our kings” raised the memory of the journey travelled by our kings to bring us to where we are today. Among those who died was Chris Hani (the Thembu Man) who joined the liberation struggle in pursuit of the dreams of his kings.

Having made all these visits, going from one kingdom to another, stressing the importance of unity – that united we stand but divided we fall – some very disturbing public utterances were nonetheless made in total contradiction of these efforts.

I speak of course, of the remarks by the secretary-general of the ANC, Ace Magashule, to “bring back the ANC we know within five years”, that “every five years there is an elective conference, we need to work harder” and the cherry on top that “people must stop eating McDonalds”, the fast-food retailer selectively mentioned for a particular purpose, with the glaring omission of any other outlets.

In almost all the visits to the kings the SG was present, singing along with the unity song and dancing.

So which ANC does the SG want to be brought back other than the one elected at Nasrec in December?

We surely know the answer to this.

I also found it very strange for the same SG to be guaranteeing loudly last Sunday 4th February 2018) that President Jacob Zuma would deliver the State of the Nation Address today. He did this emphatically in an interview on eNCA news on February 4 at midday, just hours before JZ was to meet the top six.

Yet it had been reported that the ANC’s national working committee had mandated the top six to meet the State President and ask him to resign with dignity.

Another member of the top six, David Mabuza, gave a completely different response to the question of whether Zuma would deliver his Sona today. He stated that he could not predict the outcome of the meeting with JZ, that it would depend on deliberations. Yet Magashule had already been adamant that Zuma would indeed deliver the Sona, no doubt of that.

So what exactly made him so sure?

One might also ask, what would happen to Magashule if Zuma had in fact, accepted the call for him to resign the very next day (Monday).

The SG’s reaction implied that he knew what Zuma’s final say would be, so going to Zuma to discuss him resigning was in fact, a fruitless exercise.

But how could someone have known the outcome of the meeting before it took place? And what about the spirit of unity and the collective effort to put the interest of the country first?

I’m sorry SG, I am not convinced about the sincerity of your motives. As the Bible says, some praise God, call out His name in song, accompanied by dancing, but their hearts are very distant from Him.

Without wishing to suggest the new leader of the ANC is God, could similar dynamics be playing out here – where some sing unity and common purpose from the heart, while for others, only their lips move?

This weekend, on February 11, the ANC top six is expected to again pay a visit to the late Nkosi Dalibhunga Mandela’s home at Qunu. It will be the first time they visit the grave of the son of AbaThembu King Ngubengcuka since he passed away in December 2013.

We view the graves of our fallen fathers as sacred places, ones we often visit to ask for blessings, confess our wrongdoing and ask for guidance.

One expects the ANC top six to be going there for the same purpose. They are expected to ask Madiba’s spirit to unify the ANC, to give it one purpose – which will restore the trust of the people – and to ask his spirit to make people understand that only the ANC will bring us into the promised land – this without any further delay and not through the vicious land grabs we now see which include taking our king’s land.

Again the same song of unity will be sung with comrade SG in attendance.

One thing I know is that if you go to the graves of the elders and ask for guidance, your request must be sincere, from the bottom of your heart. So I do wonder how the SG will handle this one.

This visit could have serious fall-out if we do not take it seriously and present a unified front and instead act contrarily to that. Going to the sacred place demands that you are honest - in this case that these are indeed to seek unity for the purpose of good governance.

There cannot be any among you singing the unity song with their lips moving but their heart far distant from it.

If that happens, we need to be prepared for a series of blunders moving towards the 2019 elections.

We have already experienced heavy storms and the worst drought in decades moving from the Western Cape into the Eastern Cape. Indeed, AbaThembu traditional leaders will pay a heavy price.

We call for unity for a specific purpose, not just for elective conference slates to be replaced by swapping of positions. We need to allow all voices to be heard without anyone being victimised for speaking out.

As Madiba once said “Never, never and never shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another”.

This message goes out on behalf of all who have felt brutally treated for standing up for a good thing, to those wrongly eliminated from branch elections, regional or provincial elective conferences through foreign gatekeeping practises. We have heard serious allegations of such activities including life-threatening assaults on some.

But what we wish to witness is the creation of black industrialists, the development of scarce skills, the creation of sustainable programmes to defeat the poverty scourge as opposed to lifelong social grants for young and energised people in our society.

All of this could be achieved through the application of collective wisdom, establishing trust and moving together in unity in a direction that is clear, not befuddled by factionalism.

Aah Zwelibanzi! Phila ngonaphakade (long live) Mntanomhle, may your spirit be strengthened all your days.

Prince Langalibalele Mthunzi Ngonyama is the spokesman for King Zwelibanzi Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo

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