My ANC: ‘It’s like being in a big, loving family’

2012-01-07 11:44

Sebenzile Mzini, 51, was the first secretary of the newly unbanned ANC Youth League’s Border region in 1991 under then president, the late Peter Mokaba. He told his story to Sabelo Skiti

My involvement in politics started as a youth in the late 1970s on the farm, near Kei Road, on which my family lived and worked.

I learnt through the Daily Dispatch, which had a progressive editor in Donald Woods, about what happened in places like Soweto.

My English teacher at Phillip Mtywaku High in Peelton, near Bhisho, was the late Steve Tshwete. He recruited us. At that time he had just been released from Robben Island.

What I saw in the newspapers was not different to how we were being treated on the farm, and it touched me deeply.

I told myself there’s only one thing I must do, and that is to join the struggle. I was soon expelled from the farm by the farmer, who said I was exactly like the youth in Soweto.

When my father could not stand up for me because of his fear of the farmer, that made my resolve stronger.

I moved to Mdantsane in 1981 after passing Standard 10. Work was being done to set up structures like the United Democratic Front and the South African Youth Congress branches [which later became the ANC youth league] because the ANC was still banned.

We used to get written copies of comrade [former ANC president] OR Tambo’s statement, every January 8th.

These were smuggled into the country and were passed from hand to hand across towns and cities, and gave us direction on what we must do to keep the struggle going inside the country.

Some of us were told that we wouldn’t go into exile because people were needed to influence and educate the masses in the country, and also to get ready for liberation.

Those times it was heated and you never knew when you would be arrested or what would happen to you.

For the better part of that decade I probably slept at home for maybe two days a week, and did not attend traditional ceremonies at home, because we always got information that South African and Ciskei police were looking for us.

Fortunately my three children don’t really remember much about that period because they were young, but they now support the ANC.

I’m still very involved in my branch here in Mdantsane, though mostly I’m in Johannesburg where I’m employed as a parliamentary liaison officer.

I’m very proud that the ANC will be 100 this year. To be a member of this party is like being in a big, loving family, and I’m grateful I was involved in such a liberation movement.

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