Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) spokesperson Carl Niehaus has slammed Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula for labelling some of the association’s members “thugs”.
In a series of tweets on Monday, Mbalula claimed that certain members of the association were “thugs calling themselves veterans”.
This comes after the association in Gauteng marched against Mbalula, demanding he be arrested for the country’s almost defunct train service. The minister hit back at the calls and said he was being targeted for “closing the taps” on alleged corruption at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa).
On Tuesday, Niehaus called on the minister to apologise for his tweets and respect those who had fought against the apartheid government.
“You don’t call MK cadres, many of them much older than you, thugs,” he said. “Some of these cadres are old enough to be your parents. These are cadres who sacrificed their lives for our freedom, yours too, and are suffering neglect and poverty. Respect!
I have great admiration for umkhonto we sizwe great admiration ??what kebby and niehaus are doing in its name will come to an end one day ,I have less respect for thugs masquerading as mk Period! i rest my case. Ong'funayo makeze ndikhona .— Minister of Transport |Mr Fix (@MbalulaFikile) October 12, 2020
“As a member of the NEC [national executive committee] of MKMVA, and national spokesperson of MKMVA, I will be negligent in my duties to let this appalling tweet by you, Minister Mbalula, go unchallenged. You must retract and apologise!”
In his tweets, Mbalula singled out MKMVA national chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe, and Niehaus, and accused them of thuggery.
“They organise tired self-defence units and they call themselves MK with old Gupta-sponsored camouflage uniforms even worn out,” Mbalula said.
He continued: “I have great admiration for Umkhonto weSizwe, great admiration. What Kebby and Niehaus are doing in its name will come to an end one day. I have less respect for thugs masquerading as MK, period! I rest my case. Ong’funayo makeze ndikhona [anyone who wants me must come, I’m available].”
Mbalula questioned the MKMVA’s motive for the protest and its interest in the Prasa security contracts.
“Prasa was your milking cow. I have closed the taps, that is my sin. You used to do as (you) wished with fake security companies,” Mbalula said.
The MKMVA accused Mbalula of having helped collapse the economy, as the removal of security had resulted in the theft of railway infrastructure, which badly sabotaged economic activity and disadvantaged commuters who depended on trains.
On Monday night Maphatsoe conceded that at least one MKMVA member was among the companies whose contracts were cancelled at Prasa and that he was starving.
“I know of a company member who was doing business in Prasa. They were not corrupt. They applied like others. He is now suffering because of that decision and we cannot allow that,” he said.
In their memorandum, the MKMVA called for the closure of the commission of inquiry into state capture chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and accused it of political bias.
While reading their memorandum on Monday, the association’s Johannesburg deputy chairperson, Maveleswazini Mabuza, blasted the commission and its work.
“We call for the end to the Zondo commission of inquiry. This initiative has proven beyond doubt that it has deviated from its intended course and has now become a political process,” Mabuza said.
“Mbalula will never address any meeting of the ANC because our members will go and disrupt him wherever he is deployed,” Maphatsoe said. This until Mbalula apologised for insulting its members.