Category Archives: ANC Veterans

Zola Skweyiya

THE PASSING ON OF COMRADE DR ZOLA SKWEYIYA HAS LEFT A VOID IN THE ANC VETERANS LEAGUE

The months of March and April this year, with dark clouds seemingly hovering over us to no end, have emotionally drained the South African nation, particularly the ANC and its Veterans League. For it was during this period that we first lost struggle Veteran Comrade Zola Zembe, followed by Mama Winnie Mandela, then diplomat extraordinaire Ambassador George “Dikgang” Nene, and now our committed, compassionate and dedicated Comrade Zola Skweyiya, who left us on 14 April, three days before his birthday. He would have turned 76 years of age. Thus, in a short space of time we lost selfless leaders who infinitely cared about the country, its people and their glorious movement, the ANC. These are elders who were a repository of the ANC ‘s history and traditions.

The four stalwarts mentioned above were always concerned about the downward trajectory of the ANC over the past ten years. They lamented how precipitously their movement had strayed from its strategic objectives. They agonized deeply when witnessing its gradual downward trend and how society was gradually distancing itself from this, their once formidable organization.
Comrade Zola Skweyiya was a member of the ANC Veterans League and became part of the ANC Stalwarts and Veterans who penned an open letter to the ANC, imploring for an immediate intervention to deal with the rot that was systematically
devouring their organization and destroying their country from within.

He attended all the convened Stalwarts and Veterans meetings and participated actively in searching for ways in which the stalwarts and veterans could intervene with the view to save their country and their glorious movement from utter and total destruction.
The President of the Veterans League recalls the hours he would confer with Comrade Zola during those critical times:

“At those meetings where at times I would sit next to him and later discuss with him during tea breaks, he would shake his head with dismay and ask rhetorically how it came about that we allowed the movement to stray away from its strategic path of delivering quality basic services to society so as to contribute in our quest to better the lives of the poor.” Why, he would ask, are there no repercussions against those who openly squander and steal resources of the country with such impunity, damaging the brand, image and integrity of the movement? Why, he enquired, is the Executive not held to account by the NEC of the ANC and by members of parliament? The patronage that is easily dispensed, he intoned, must be nipped in the bud.

It is the Stalwarts and Veterans who put pressure on our leadership to convene the second Veterans League conference which took place in October 2017. The last conference was held in 2009 when it was established. The outcome of the 54th ANC national conference in October 2017 ushered a new dawn and gave hope to millions of South Africans that the country and the ANC were on the road to recovery and renewal.

To this end, the president of the ANC and of the country Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa wasted no time and met with the stalwarts and veterans delegation and the Veterans League on 12 March this year. His was to recognize the role that was played by the stalwarts and veterans and requested that they be part of the ANC Veterans League and play a meaningful and constructive role of building unity in the country and the ANC, thus taking their rightful place as the custodians of the ANC values and traditions.

“Lying in bed at the hospital where he was admitted and watching the news as the meeting was reported, Comrade Zola called me and demanded that I brief him on the outcome of the meeting. Refusing to heed my plea that he rest as everything was in order, he said he was more concerned about its future and how we as the real veterans of the ANC could help in fixing what has been severely damaged. As a parting shot he commanded that I should come to see him as soon as I could.”

“A week later I paid him a visit at the hospital and briefed him comprehensively on how the ANC Veterans League was striving to unite all members of society and helping to build structures of the ANC.” Comrade Zola was assured by the Veterans League President that the league will support all initiatives by the current leadership to unite the ANC and society. He was informed that the Veterans League would assist the mother body to rebuild strong and credible branches of the ANC.

Comrade Zola, we as Veterans of the ANC are alive to the fact that you gave the struggle your all. Even during your last hours, your concerns had been how to save this glorious movement and ensure that it delivers on its strategic objectives. We shall double our efforts and ensure that your movement, the people’s movement, returns to its former glory.
As always we are ready to serve and will not disappoint you.

Lala Ngoxolo Boet Zola. Fervently do we implore you to let the Luthuli Detachment members who left before you, know that we will soldier on and will defend the gains of our revolution.

Snuki Zikalala
President of the ANC Veterans League

Stalwarts

For Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (1936 – 2018)

Today we grieve,
The mother of the nation has breathed her last,
today we reflect on her gallant past.
Today we mourn,
the falling of a giant tree,
who rattled the foundations of Apartheid,
in the collective struggle to be from oppression free.
Today we weep,
tears of sorrow and tears of pain,
for our mother who shall no longer walk amongst us again.
Today we sing,
songs of freedom and of profound loss,
as we remember the cruel and brutal obstacles she had to cross.
Today we reflect,
on the years of banishment and of solitary confinement she was made to suffer,
with no husband, no family, nothing but her will acting as her protective buffer.
Today we recall her strength,
as she fought alongside her comrades without a pause,
while remaining ever faithfully dedicated to the valiant struggle, to the cause.
Today we console each other as the truth cuts deep,
her life one of loss and of unimaginable pain,
as we call out our eternal refrain –
Hamba Kahle* Mama Winnie Mandela!
We will not give up your fight!
Matla ke a Rona!**
The Struggle Continues.
Viva the undying spirit of Winnie Mandela!
Viva the struggle against racism and oppression!
_________* – Hamba Kahle – an isiXhosa and isiZulu term meaning “travel well” – often used when bidding a departed one adieu.* – Matla ke a Rona – victory is certain – a slogan during the struggle against Apartheid oppression and racial discrimination.Afzal Moolla
On behalf of the stalwarts and veterans of the ANC who are signatories to the “For the Sake of our Future” document.

 

THE ANC VETERANS LEAGUE MOURNS THE DEATH OF ITS STALWART WINNIE MANDELA.

It is with great sadness that we learnt of the untimely death of Mama Winnie Mandela, the recipient of the Order of Luthuli Award in Silver for bravery.

Winnie Mandela was a pillar of our struggle for liberation in the struggle against the most atrocious apartheid regime. The ANC Veterans League sends its deepest condolences to the Madikizela and Mandela families.

Following is a poignant account from the President of the Veterans League, who knew and worked with this giant of our movement during those dark and seemingly horrid times of our struggle.

“I was introduced to the ANC when I was very young, angry and militant, by Winnie Mandela and worked with her when it was not fashionable to be associated with our glorious movement.

it is unimaginable that she is no more.”

He elaborates: “I remember vividly when I met her in 1966 in down town Johannesburg where she was working as a secretary. We spoke quietly in hushed tones on how evil and atrocious the apartheid system was, a system which denied millions of South Africans their birthright. The topic then focused on the hated Bantu education system designed for black South Africans, the appalling and segregated living conditions, how workers’ rights were trampled upon on a daily basis, and the daily harassment and torture of those who dared raise their voices in defiance of the obnoxious system where blacks were made hewers of wood and drawers of waters.

It was only when she invited me to her home in Orlando West in Soweto that she spoke freely and we started planning on how we could mobilize and organize the youth to become active participants in the struggle against apartheid.

Winnie never revealed her identity then. She was a leader in her own right. She was not in the struggle because she was married to Nelson Mandela, but was a committed and dedicated member of the ANC.

She later introduced us to incorrigible leaders like Samson Ndou, Marita Ndzanga and her husband Lawrance Ndzanga, Elliot Shabangu, Joyce Sikakane, and Sam Poloto,

As the militant youth of the day, we wanted to be trained on how to handle weapons and explosives. We had already identified targets that were going to disrupt the South African economy.

Winnie was very patient by then and insisted on us receiving political training especially on the aims and objectives of the ANC and the Freedom Charter.

I recall that we had to recite the Freedom Charter like a bible and only then were we introduced to underground training in the handling of sensitive information. The training included production of leaflet bombs, distribution of ANC underground material, manufacturing of Molotov cocktails and learning how to infiltrate MK cadres who would train us internally.

Yes, we researched oh how we can procure weapons from the armaments factories of Denel and Armscor. We became responsible for distributing and setting up of leaflet bombs in the Johannesburg City Centre.

It was in May 1969 when more than 120 ANC activist were rounded up, arrested and detained under the notorious Section 6 of the Terrorism Act of 1967.The notorious Act allowed the state to detain members of society who were opposed to apartheid for 180 days without trial.

Twenty one of us spent 12 months in solitary confinement and 6 months on trial, first under the Suppression of the Communism Act and were later detained and charged under the Terrorism Act.

We were severely tortured, but our spirits and the resolve to fight the apartheid regime were never dampened.

Comrade Benjamin Ramotse, who was kidnapped from Botswana and brutally tortured, stood trial with us and was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment on Robben Island.

After our trial in September 1970, we were all banned under the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950. A banned person endured severe restrictions on their movement, political activities, and associations intended to silence their opposition to the government’s apartheid policies and stop their political activity.

Later, when some of us left the country in 1974 to re-enforce the activities of the ANC in exile in Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Angola and Bulgaria, comrade Winnie Mandela remained as the pillar of our struggle in the country, soldiering on without let or hindrance.

She was banned, harassed and banished to Brandfort. She, however,

stood firm on her political convictions. She expressed he bravery, always fighting for the interest of the poor. She strived to overcome the terrible conditions of apartheid and never gave up.”

Comrade Winnie Mandela, “Mother of the Nation”, you will always be remembered for the contribution you have made in the struggle for liberation. The ANC Veterans League dips its revolutionary banner in honour of this extraordinary giant of our struggle.

Lala ngo Xolo. Hamba Kahle Qhawe la Maqhawe

Snuki Zikalala

President of the ANC Veterans League

ARCHIE SIBEKO

THE ANC VETERANS LEAGUE MOURNS THE DEATH OF ITS STALWART COMRADE ZZ AKA ARCHIE SIBEKO.

It is with great sadness that we inform the South African society that the great tree of the liberation movement, comrade  ZZ aka Archie Sibeko passed away peacefully on the 27 March 2018. 

Comrade Archibald Mncedisi Sibeko commonly known as Zola Zembe, Zola Ntambo, Comrade ZZ was born in the Eastern Cape in Alice at Kwezane in the Tyhume Valley on 3 March 1928. He attended school at Lovedale and later went to Fort Cox where he qualified as an Agricultural Extension Officer. However, his qualification was never used, as he -instead moved to Cape Town where he worked in the Railways. It is here that Cde ZZ got involved in the trade union work and joined the South African Railway and Harbours Workers Union (SARHWU), which was established in 1936. For him like many of his comrades it made no sense to be a trade unionist who had no political affiliation. He became a member of the Communist Party and also of the African National Congress. ZZ attended the founding conference of the South African Congress of Trade Unions as a leader of the Western Cape delegation.

Among the comrades he worked with in the Congress Alliance are comrades Elijah Loza, Oscar Mpetha, Jack Simons and Ray Alexander-Simons, Boniswa Priscilla Mngeni, Elizabeth Mafekeng, Gilbert Hani, Martin Chris Hani. When Cde Chris Hani finished his studies at the University of Fort Hare Cde ZZ and Cde Gilbert [Chris’ father] persuaded Cde Chris to stop working in a law firm and join SACTU and ANC office where sometimes they worked without payment. Cde ZZ was involved in the Defiance Campaign and he was among those who were arrested and became part of the Treason Trial in 1956. When Umkhonto we Sizwe was formed in 1961 Cde ZZ was among the first volunteers to join. At the height of the apartheid repression in 1961 ZZ and Cde Chris were arrested and at this stage the Movement instructed that they should leave the country to go for military training. He led the Western Cape group to meet others in Johannesburg where all different groups converged and left in 1963 under the commandership of Cde Mark William Shope. 

Cde ZZ got his military training in Tanzania, the Soviet Union, Cuba, and East Germany. He was among those who opened the first camps in Tanzania where he became the Camp Commander at Kongwa, near Dodoma in Tanzania. Together with Cde Chris Hani and many other heroes ZZ was involved in the Wankie and Sipolelo campaign which marked the first military encounter between Rhodesian and South African defence forces.  

When the struggle for liberation of SA reached a stage where international mobilisation had to be prioritised, Cde ZZ was assigned to mobilise the Western Europe, north and south Americas, Eastern Europe, Australia with focus on mobilising the international trade union movement to support the struggle of black workers against apartheid in South Africa.  He became one of the most trusted mobilisers of support to meet the necessities of the MK cadres in Angola and the ANC students in Tanzania and other ANC settlements in Africa.  

As the Coordinator for Western Europe, Cde ZZ was head of the SACTU Office in London mobilising support for the labour movement in South Africa. Cde ZZ was a man with a formidable personality, but more than that rooted in his conviction and vision of a better society for all of us and especially his working comrades whom he left behind but never forgot. His faith and trust in people was sometimes overwhelming and because of this trait, the betrayal of it, understandably, caused him great pain – on occasion erupting like a volcano. To understand this, one needed to understand the total dedication he placed on himself and at times demanded of others. 

Comrade ZZ was an incredible mentor. The culture of the SACTU Office is legendary as instilled by cde ZZ. One of the important roles of the SACTU Office was to address meetings in UK and Europe and all over the world. Cde ZZ travelled far and wide, throughout UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand as well as the US, calling on the world to boycott South Africa and to support the struggle against apartheid.  

ZZ had an incredible memory for events and dates and was lucid in his descriptions in passing on information about the struggles and strikes of the various sectors. His teaching was done with such conviction that left no fear or doubt in carrying forward the work that had to be undertaken within SACTU. 

When the ANC and other liberation organisations were unbanned in 1990 the first group arrived to prepare for the rest of comrades to return. The second group comprised of SACTU NEC members led by Cde ZZ landed at Jan Smuts International Airport and remained there for two hours only to be sent back to Zambia for alleged missing documents for clearance. When he finally returned to SA he continued working in the ANC where he was elected Deputy Chairman of the Western Cape. Concurrently he was involved in SARHWU where he was elected the Honorary President. When Transport and General Workers Union merged to form SATAWU again the workers unanimously re-elected him to be the Honorary President, a position he held until his death. The load of work, which included quelling the taxi wars in the Western Cape and running SARHWU nationally towards end of 1991affected ZZ and he suffered a minor stroke. As a result of this he went back to UK in Manchester where his wife Dr Joyce Leeson looked after him until he fully recovered.   

Cde Archie Sibeko wrote five books namely,  

  1. Freedom in our life time co-authored with his wife Joyce Leeson 
  1. A fighting union (an oral history of the South African Railway and Harbour Workers’ Union co-authored with Margaret Kiloh 
  1. The roll of honour – Western Cape ANC comrades 1953-1963 
  1. Growing up in a Xhosa village-through the eyes of a boy co-authored with Joyce Leeson 
  1. Zola Zembe (Archie Sibeko) Art Work. 

Cde ZZ turned out to be an amazing artist, who during his recuperation after the minor stroke, spent time doing mainly landscape paintings. A book of these paintings is due to be published. 

ZZ has won a number of awards in honour of his contribution to the struggle for freedom. Among these we can count  

  1. Order of Luthuli-Silver by RSA government 
  1. Honorary Doctorate from the University of New Castle, UK 
  1. Elijah Barayi Award by COSATU 
  1. Award By SACP 

Cde ZZ worked tirelessly even after leaving active politics. Out of his pension he erected a monument for Tyhume Valley fallen Heroes; The Cultural Roundhouse he started in Alice but ill health interfered with the progress of this project. He initiated the British group of experts to support Tyhume Valley children with English and Maths. This has since grown to be registered as an NPO entity in SA. NGOs in the Tyhume-Keiskamma Hoek area have formed a Consortium focusing on rural education, Archie Sibeko Rural Education Consortium. 

The honesty, integrity, compassion and energy of cde ZZ remains etched in the hearts of those who knew him. Cde ZZ gave true meaning to international working class solidarity. 

Cde ZZ passed away peacefully on 27 March, leaving behind his wife, Dr Joyce Leeson, adult children, grandchildren and great grand-children.  

Snuki Zikalala 

President of the ANC Veterans League

ANC Veterans Leauge

THE ANC VETERANS LEAGUE WILL MOBILISE SOCIETY TO SUPPORT THE ANC AND LEAD THE MOVEMENT TOWARDS A VICTORIOUS 2019 ELECTIONS

The ANC Veterans League held its first NEC after the 54 th National conference from the 17th to 18th March. The Veterans league acknowledged that the 54th National conference of the ANC has ushered in the dawn of a new beginning.

The Veterans League noted that there is palpable hope that our glorious movement can self-correct and reclaim its role as the leader of society again. It must be readily admitted that we have a trust deficit with society. Our brand has suffered from rampant corruption and the wholesale looting of state assets. Divisions in the movement, dysfunctional branches, gate keeping, non tolerance of comrades who have different views, factionalism and disregard for the rule of law –all these have been prevalent and a blight on our movement.

Our priorities, emanating from the 54th conference, are to unite the ANC, protect the integrity of the ANC and its brand, build a strong and vibrant veterans league, establish veteran’s league branches and regions and lead the movement towards a victorious 2019 elections.
As troupers of the movement, we must strive to unite to ensure that the stalwarts and veterans do join the Veterans League, use their inestimable energy and intellectual capacity to help in building a strong and well respected Veterans League.

The Veterans League has to play a leading role in uniting the movement and society. We have to reclaim our rightful role as the guardian of our values and traditions. We must be visible and earn respect within the ANC structures and society. Also, we must not be shy to raise in public, issues that affect our communities to ensure that public representatives are held to account. As the Veterans League we are of the view that a Special National Consultative conference be convened.

On the Esidimeni tragedy, we should have been the first to call for an inquiry and demand accountability from our provincial government. Lack of professional services at our hospitals, home affairs and other state owned institutions should not be tolerated. It is imperative that, together with our Alliance partners, we support our movement in building coherence around our movement’s Programme of Socio Economic Transformation in government, and assist to ensure that the 54th conference resolutions are implemented.

The mood in our country is truly buoyant. This year’s January 8th celebrations, including the rallies and statements, have raised our people’s hope that the movement is back on its track. There has clearly been tangible re-organisation in government, including the resignation of the President and the reshuffle of Cabinet.

However, we are not exultant that some ministers have been ‘recycled’ and that there has been inadequate evaluation of their performances in their previous portfolios. For us to win the upcoming elections next year, we have to prevail on our movement to deploy skilled, competent, passionate and knowledgeable comrades in government. Comrades who occupy the highest positions in the movement and in government should be ethical and beyond reproach.

We wholly support the Pilgrimage Programme by our ANC Officials to former ANC President’s gravesides, families and areas, including visits to royal chieftainships in those areas.
It is our duty to assist our movement in dealing with challenges in Kwa Zulu Natal and the Free State, where the Provincial Executive Committees were affected by court orders. We must commend the ANC for appointing Provincial Interim Committees to address the problems and take the provinces to conference. We however ,recommend that the inclusion of veterans when appointing Provincial Task Teams as chairs and co-ordinators as it is not credible to use the contending forces as leaders of the PTT as some have divisive tendencies.

In the Eastern Cape, the appeal against the provinces 8th Provincial Conference and the appointment of a commission chaired comrade Sbu Ndebele to hear the matter should be supported. In the North West Province, there are serious allegations of corruption against the current administration. The law enforcement agencies must be encouraged to take appropriate action.

For us to build strong and credible branches of the ANC and the Veterans League, we should encourage our movement to immediately implement the 54th conference resolution on the introduction of the Electronic Membership System. To this end, through the organizing unit of the ANC, we propose to invite our indefatigable comrade Omry Makgoale to give a presentation on the electoral reform.

We should propose that the ANC leadership be elected on the basis of One ANC member One Vote from the president to the branch chairperson. This will afford all ANC members, for the first time in the history of the ANC, the right to elect their president, secretary general, treasurer general and other office bearers.

We further propose that we set a term of office for our parliamentarians instead of the current situation where we have comrades who have been deployed in parliament for ages. We require an audit of members of parliament to check whether they have been deployed by the branches.
We shall strive to unite MKMVA and MKMVA Council to ensure that an all-inclusive conference is organized.

The ANC Veterans League calls for the eradication of pit latrine toilets at our schools and send our deepest condolences to the family of a child from the Eastern Cape who died while using that antiquated ablution system. The Eastern Cape provincial government should be held accountable and those responsible and they must face the full might of the law.
As Veterans we are always ready to serve.

Snuki Zikalala
President of the ANC Veterans League

THE VETERANS LEAGUE ENCOURAGES MEMBERS OF SOCIETY TO REGISTER TO VOTE

The ANC Veterans League calls on its members to mobilize society to come out in large numbers to register to vote for the next coming general elections.

The 2019 upcoming elections are critical to our country and indeed to our glorious movement. We readily admit that prior to the 54th conference of the ANC, the movement was clearly on a downward spiral, even sidelining those who dared to criticize its wayward behavior.

As veterans of the ANC, we are determined to protect the legacy of our movement so that it continues to contribute positively to the transformation of our society.

As veterans of the ANC we would like to encourage all members of the civil society especially the youth and the unemployed to register to vote.

Our new leadership has committed itself to rid the organization of factionalism, ill-discipline, arrogance and abuse of state power and resources.

Members of the executive who are dishonest to society and who live above their means will be made to account.

We are confident that the new leadership has taken the issue of the unemployment seriously, and that includes closing the credibility gap that existed prior the 54th conference, particularly amongst the youth.

To this end, we urge and encourage workers who supported our glorious movement with their blood, sweat and tears to come out in large numbers to check their voting status and encourage the youth to register to vote.

So, let us go out in our numbers to encourage our people to register to vote, for the sake of our country’s future, for the sake of our children’s future.

As veterans of the ANC we are always ready to serve.

Issued by the President of the ANC Veterans League

Snuki Zikalala