NEWS & ANALYSIS

Stan Mathabatha's comments ethnically divisive - MKMVA

ANC Limpopo Chairperson said the time had now come for an ANC President from his province

UMKHONTO WE SIZWE MILITARY VETERANS ASSOCIATION (MKMVA) MEDIA STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO IRRESPONSIBLE AND DIVISIVE UTTERANCES BY THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE ANC IN LIMPOPO, COMRADE STAN MATHABATHA

Date: Monday, 28 August 2017

The Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) has with utter dismay taken note of the ethnically loaded and immature statements that the ANC Provincial Chairperson in Limpopo, comrade Stan Mathabatha issued regarding the contestation for the ANC presidency. Comrade Mathabatha is reported to have said that the last time that Limpopo produced an ANC President was in 1917 when President Safako Makgatho was elected, and that the time has now come to have another President from Limpopo. He said this in apparent support of comrade Cyril Ramaphosa.

We note that comrade Mathabatha made matters even worse by having added that there seems to be one province that thinks it is the only one that can produce presidents of the ANC.

These statements are highly irresponsible and provocative – and it belies the fact it is possible and perfectly acceptable for two (or even more) ANC presidents to come from the same province as long as they are competent and have the support of the majority of ANC members. We find it strange that we have to remind comrade Stan that both comrades OR Tambo and Nelson Mandela came from same region and ethnic (to mention but one example), and this was not an issue because ability and national support were the criteria that prevailed.

MKMVA has no problem if comrade Mathabatha supports comrade Ramaphosa because that is his democratic right. We are, however, seriously concerned when he articulates that support in regional and ethnical terms. We ask ourselves if comrade Mathabata found it so difficult to come up with arguments of substance in terms of character and ability to support his candidate of choice, that he was actually forced to resort to arguments that are entirely alien to the political culture and history of the ANC?

Since the ANC was formed on the 8th of January 1912 in Mangaung, it fought against all forms of racism, ethnicity and regionalism. Indeed the formation of the ANC started with a call for unity when Pixley ka Isaka Seme called on all Africans to put their differences aside and unite. He said: “We are one people, these divisions, these jealousies, are the cause of all our woes.”

Thus the ANC has always been a national liberation movement that rejects any form of ethnic and/or regional divisive politics. Presidents and other National Office Bearers (NOB’s), as well members of the NEC of the ANC are elected on ability and overall national support, and not because they come from a particular ethnic group. This has always been the great strength of the ANC, and to a very large extent the reason for our success and endurance as the oldest Liberation Movement on the African continent.

As a relatively long-standing member of the ANC comrade Mathabatha surely knows this? He should also know that myopic ethnic politics and regionalism in many other African countries have done much harm, and wherever it raises its ugly head it always weakens Africa’s ability to resist the dual onslaughts of racism and neo-colonial monopoly capitalism. These enemies of the people of Africa thrive on divide and rule tactics.

In his own province of Limpopo comrade Mathabatha experienced the serious harm that was caused in Malamule when narrow ethnical politics caused some Tsonga people to fight for a municipality separate from the Venda people.

The question indeed arises if comrade Mathabatha needs to be urgently referred for political education?

We call on comrade Mathabatha to withdraw these statements, and to apologise to all the members of the ANC. We also call him to desist in future from making such immature and irresponsible statements.

Statement issued by President of MKMVA, Comrade Kebby Maphatsoe, 28 August 2017