Dear Madam Speaker,
I trust that you are well, given the circumstances of this very trying period in our country.
You carry the mantle and legacy of being a woman guerrilla freedom fighter of high pedigree and consciousness. Based on this background I hope you will agree that never before has any respected leaders of the African liberation movements declared a unilateral rule by decree.
From Oliver Reginald Tambo, Nelson Mandela and Water Sisulu of your movement the ANC to Eduardo Mondlane and Samora Machel of Frelimo in Mozambique, Agostinho Neto of Angola, Amilcar Cabral of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, Sam Nujoma of Swapo in Namibia, Jomo Kenyatta of the Mau-Mau in Kenya, Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, the great Julius Nyerere of Chama cha Mapinduzi in Tanzania, Josia Tongongara and Herbet Chitepo of Zanu in Zimbabwe, Joshua Nkomo of Zapu, Unip’s Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia.
None of these leaders ever took the drastic step to rule by decree even at the highest of tensions within their parties. Their movements were so loved by millions of Africans – and some still are.
What’s the relevance of all of this?
Well recently were drawn, by virtue of your position as the Speaker of Parliament, into a conflict between the warring factions of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania. Unbeknown to the majority in the mainstream media, you have now become a respondent in a legal case of the one faction of the PAC.
A rule by decree is exactly what has resulted in the locking of horns within this party, which carries a strong legacy as one of the leading liberation movements in this country.
Founded on the teachings of the highly respected duo of Anton Lembede and AP Mda, the party made an immediate impact on the South African political landscape upon its inception in 1959, under the leadership of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe. It was Sobukwe and the PAC that organised the anti-pass laws protests that culminated into the Sharpeville and Langa massacres in 1960.
In contemporary times, the PAC was beginning to rise from the ashes of internal strife and factionalism when Narius Moloto unilaterally declared a rule by decree, simply on the basis of what he perceived to be a threat to his power. Moloto had been put forward as a compromise president of the PAC as per the ruling by Judge Moses Mavundla ahead of the national elections.
Instead of consolidating on this newfound positive spirit and era for rebuilding, Moloto’s decision plunged into turmoil the party of Zeph Mothopeng, Gora Ibrahim, Nomvo Booi, Barney Desai, Bishop Stanley Mogoba, Motsoko Pheko, Johnson Mlambo, Japhta Masemola, Khoisan X, John Nyathi Pokela, Vusumuzi Make, Mfanasekhaya Qcoboshe, Urbania Mothopeng, Mark Shinners, Sabelo Qwetha Pharma and many more.
Moloto’s unfortunate decision, based on his disagreement with the resolutions of a national executive committee meeting that he had been part of, was the genesis of what is now a prolonged legal process. There was no need to take such a drastic step when there were other avenues that could’ve been exhausted to sort out an internal challenge.
A further debilitating factor is the perceived collusion and support of the Moloto faction by the state, through its parliamentary apparatus.
In the most recent development, instead of seeking the advice of party elders, and even from those outside the PAC, Moloto and his faction wrote to you, Madam Speaker, to effectively remove his nemesis, Mzwanele Nyhontso, as the party’s sole representative in the democratic Parliament.
According to a press release from your office, you sought legal advice before acceding to this request.
Although you may have had legal consultations I believe you didn’t take time to ascertain the real historical context of the situation. Are you aware that virtually all the remaining veterans of the party – be they from exile, prison or those who fought from within the country – have endorsed the efforts to unite the party and that Moloto is the only one who rejected this noble process?
You served on Robben Island with the likes of Mike Munedane, Mogoba, Mark Shinners, Johnson Mlambo and they have all backed the unity process that led to a unified PAC under Nyhontso. I hope you agree that our culture teaches us that whenever there’s a family feud, we try to put our heads together to sort it out.
We call our elders to provide wisdom and direction. In Moloto’s case, what he did is tantamount to pulling out a knobkirrie (decree) with the objective using it to settle a family feud.
The true PAC veterans are against such a move, which goes against the very essence of one of the organisation’s aims, which stresses unity and brotherhood/sisterhood. Pheko, former Apla High Command members, retired former PAC and SA National Defence Force generals, respected journalists such as former Press Ombudsman Joe Tlholoe, Apla veterans and many others backed the unity process, a notion that Moloto rejected with the highest contempt.
Are you aware that Moloto effectively brought shame on the family and legacy of party stalwart Mlambo, when he “ordered” the SABC to abandon the broadcast of Mlambo’s funeral? An official Gauteng government funeral. Millions across this country and Africa were watching, paying their last respects to the former Robben Island prisoner and exiled leader when the broadcast was abruptly stopped.
He pulled the plug because the Gauteng government, party veterans and members of the Apla High Command had referred to Nyhontso as the PAC president, a title which Moloto feels entitled to.
This is the attitude and ludicrousness of the leadership that you have effectively endorsed. Knowing your honesty and forth righteousness, in our minds we think you have been misled and ill-advised. Based on the above, I therefore advise you to introspect and evaluate the position that you have taken as a respondent in the current court case.
You and I know about the emotional attachment our people have to their liberation movements. History has taught us that there it’s highly likely there will be an outbreak of violence as a result of this.
In this case, Moloto’s side stands to lose more given that his faction has a handful of followers compared to the other side, which has strong branches, regions and provincial structures across the country. They will never accept a PAC appointed and imposed by Parliament.
This brings us to the related matter of representation. Moloto’s faction is almost non-existent on the ground, whereas the other side is visible and active in the communities every weekend. You only have to look at the social media platforms of both sides to ascertain this.
On the Nyhontso side, they are actively posting about party events and positions on pertinent issues in the country’s political discourse and more. The other faction’s posts are dominated by your unfortunate decision, and the personal attacks against the leadership of the Nyhontso faction. That just demonstrates the difference between the two types of leadership.
I hope you agree that you don’t want to tarnish your impeccable struggle and government legacy by backing the wrong horse and taking wrong, ill-informed decisions on this matter.
Mosimanegape Kedisamang is an independent political analyst and writer