MK vets use Aloe Ridge crisis to fight camp battles

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MK Vets provincial head in KwaZulu-Natal Themba Mavundla (centre).
MK Vets provincial head in KwaZulu-Natal Themba Mavundla (centre).
Jabulani Langa

As divisions among the MK veterans in KZN deepen, the Aloe Ridge rental housing complex invaded by the former soldiers almost three years ago has been turned into a battleground in a war pitting rival factions against one another.

With the war vets who are currently illegally occupying close to 300 flats at the complex at risk of being evicted after the company owning the units, Capital City Housing (CCH), initiated court proceedings against them, rival MK factions are using the situation to further their political struggles.

During the recent eviction proceedings, Mkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) provincial chairperson Themba Mavundla, along with the organisation’s Moses Mabhida regional leaders, led a protest outside the court.

However, MKMVA member in the region Babsy Sithole, who claims to be the organisation’s interim regional leader, said Mavundla and the other regional leaders who were part of the protest are not legitimate leaders.

“MKMVA members who are currently in Aloe Ridge have no intention to live there permanently. Aloe Ridge is just a transit camp as the soldiers wait for the government to build houses for them.”
MK Vets member in the Moses Mabhida region Babsy Sithole

“Their term of office expired a long time ago,” he said.

Sithole claimed to have been elected by MKMVA members in the region to act as interim leader pending the election of a new regional leader, but Mavundla disputed Sithole’s claim. The conference date is yet to be determined.

“If an election had to take place in the Moses Mabhida region, it has to be facilitated by the MKMVA provincial leadership. As the provincial leadership we have never facilitated any MKMVA Moses Mabhida region meeting where an interim leader was elected,” said Mavundla.

On Wednesday, Sithole led MKMVA members during a protest march to the ANC regional offices in Hoosen Haffejee Street where he called on the party’s regional leadership to intervene in Aloe Ridge.

“MKMVA members who are currently in Aloe Ridge have no intention to live there permanently. Aloe Ridge is just a transit camp as the soldiers wait for the government to build houses for them.

“The matter can’t be resolved by going to court. It requires a political solution and hence our appeal to the ANC regional leadership to intervene,” he said.

READ | Bisley ratepayers oppose plans for a war-vets housing scheme in their area

However, Mavundla said Sithole should have first obtained a mandate from the MKMVA leadership before confronting the ANC regional leadership. “Like any other ANC structure, we have processes that need to be followed before members could embark on a protest,” he said.

Mavundla and Sithole are currently embroiled in a court battle after the latter had allegedly labelled the former a murderer in messages sent on MKMVA WhatsApp groups.

However, Sithole claimed that the court had found him innocent.

There is perception that the Sithole faction, backed by MKMVA president Kebby Maphatsoe, is also being supported by ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, whose faction within the ruling party is opposed to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s leadership.

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