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ANC stalwarts slam choice of Zuma to headline Mlangeni’s memorial service

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Stalwarts and veterans had urged the ANC to rescind its choice of Zuma to undertake the "reflections" for Mlangeni

ANC stalwart and veteran Andrew Mlangeni. File picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi / African News Agency(ANA)

THE STALWARTS and Veterans of the ANC strongly criticised the party’s choice of former president Jacob Zuma to headline Friday afternoon’s memorial service for the last surviving Rivonia trialist and ANC stalwart Andrew Mlangeni, saying to sully Mlangeni’s memory “in such a cynical manner is distasteful and unbecoming of the African National Congress”.

Mlangeni died at the age of 95 in Pretoria on Tuesday.

In a letter to ANC general manager Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, and copied to secretary-general Ace Magashule and his deputy Jessie Duarte, before Friday’s online memorial service, the stalwarts and veterans urged the ANC to rescind its choice of Zuma to undertake the “reflections” for Mlangeni.

“We write with great urgency to express our consternation regarding the programme of the African National Congress to memorialise Isithwalandwe comrade Andrew Mlangeni,” the letter said.

“We have noted that cde Jacob Zuma will headline this programme at 17.00 today (Friday) and make so bold as to warn of the unsuitability of choosing him to fulfil this important role. We do so mindful of cde Zuma’s constitutionally improper conduct during his tenure as president of the ANC, as well as of the raft of very serious charges of corruption for which he is to stand trial, not to mention his alleged enabling role in state capture, which is a central concern of the state capture inquiry presided over by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. These matters stand in direct contradiction to the moral and revolutionary integrity embodied by cde Mlangeni.”

Moreover, Mlangeni had been most forthright in his condemnation of Zuma’s behaviour, going so far as to say that, despite having spent 10 years with Zuma on Robben Island, should he be found guilty of the offences levelled against him, Zuma should be returned to that prison to serve his sentence.

“These were not idle words, but a damning indictment. Consequently, we are perplexed by the very idea that cde Zuma was selected to conduct this sombre and profound homage to the last of the Rivonia trialists and custodian of the finest values of our proud movement.

“In the light of these matters, we consider it wholly inappropriate to have cde Jacob Zuma leading the memorial of cde Andrew Mlangeni. The irony of giving this solemn honour to someone whose behaviour was so trenchantly criticised by Bab’ Mlangeni does not escape us, nor will it escape the members and supporters of the ANC, the country as a whole, and the world at large. To sully the memory of cde Mlangeni in such a cynical manner is distasteful and unbecoming of the African National Congress,” the stalwarts and veterans said in the letter.

“We, therefore, respectfully but strenuously urge you to review and rescind your decision and to propose a memorial programme befitting of the prestige and memory of one of the great leaders of our liberation. Anything short of this will not enjoy the support of the Stalwarts and Veterans of the ANC, nor, we believe, of the ANC Veterans League and the broader membership. Indeed, in the event that this request is ignored, we reserve the right to distance ourselves from the programme in favour of one that properly honours cde Mlangeni’s great legacy.

“We also wish to make known that since the programme was released there has been similar distress on social media by many organisations and individuals,” the letter concluded.

In a newspaper interview with the DFA’s sister newspaper the Star in October 2016, Mlangeni accused Zuma of killing the economy and the ANC. He said it pained him to see the ANC persisting on a path of self-destruction by failing to rein in corrupt leaders.

– African News Agency (ANA)