Msimang’s resignation is regrettable, says Ramaphosa
With time, says the president, maybe he will be able to participate in ANC activities again
President Cyril Ramaphosa says the resignation of ANC Veterans League deputy president Mavuso Msimang is regrettable and he still hopes the party stalwart will rejoin the governing party in the future.
“We all join the ANC on a voluntary basis (as individuals) and he has reached a stage where he would like to step down from being a member of the ANC,” he said.
Ramaphosa was speaking to journalists after addressing an imbizo in the Matjhabeng municipality in Lejweleputswa district in the Free State on Thursday.
“There are many other members who join the ANC on a continuous basis, so we do regret the decision that he has taken, and I am rather pleased that he says that he will want to continue being involved in one shape, form or other, in matters that have to do with our country,” Ramaphosa told journalists.
“With time, maybe he will be able to participate with us again.”
Ramaphosa said the ANC still holds Msimang in high regard. “He is one of our outstanding veterans,” he said.
After more than six decades in the ANC, Msimang quit the governing party in protest against a “shameful” record of governance and its consequences that have rendered millions of South Africans destitute.
In a resignation letter addressed to secretary-general Fikile Mbalula, the struggle stalwart described the ANC’s rule as a calamity in which he could no longer invest his energy.
“When we took over the government in 1994, we had the moral high ground and the conviction that we would be able to root out the old-boy networks that had benefited from, and strangled, the apartheid economy.
“Yet, three decades later, the ANC’s own track record of corruption is a cause of great shame. The corruption we once decried is now part of our movement’s DNA. This has had dire consequences for the most vulnerable members of our society,” he said.
While a loyal leader of the ANC with deep roots in the liberation struggle, over the past decade Msimang has been a vocal critic of his party, lending his voice on matters pertaining to “corruption and its harmful by-products of nepotism and incompetence”.
His resignation comes barely four months after he was elected deputy president of the ANC Veterans League.
“Constructive” interventions and guidance from the veterans, he said, were met with censure, a shoulder shrug and a promise to do something about it. “At worst, those who seek change by raising voices endure slurs, or are met with downright hostility.”
The resignation letter became public just hours after Mbalula accused the veterans of “decampaigning” the ANC, saying: “On a daily basis our veterans are attacking the leadership while we have availed ourselves to them.”
In his blistering critique of the ANC, Msimang highlights, as a direct failure of the ANC, poverty and unemployment that has reduced citizens to beggars who live in shacks. However, he insists “they are not beggars, of course, for that is not their identity; they are human beings who have been forced to sacrifice their dignity in part because of my party’s successive failures”.
He likened the ANC government to a self-serving organisation while “people die before ambulances can reach them, or perish in the hallways of overflowing, underresourced public hospitals, children continue to be exposed to the risk of dropping into pit latrines in poorly equipped state schools and dying horrendous and humiliating deaths, who miss classes when streams and rivers are in flood because there are no bridges”.
And while millions suffer, “ANC leaders publicly proclaim ownership of obscenely wealthy homesteads and other possessions and send their children to the best schools in the land”.
Msimang cited the following as examples of “glaring” ANC government failures:
- Raw sewage in eThekwini flowing into the Umngeni River and into the sea, polluting beaches that have been a traditional holiday destination for black people from inland provinces;
- The tragic deaths of 160 frail, elderly and very vulnerable psychiatric patients that were sent by the Gauteng ANC government to ill-equipped, ill-prepared and ill-funded houses under the guise of unqualified NGOs;
- Failing, downsizing businesses or simply ones deciding not to invest anymore in our country where the environment has become entirely disabling for them, leading to thousands of jobs being lost at a time when the unemployment rate ranges north of 32% and 60% for people aged between 15 and 24 years;
- Eskom brought to its knees by high-level corruption and sabotage has literally rendered the nation powerless and all too often left it in the dark; and
- Transnet’s mismanagement has derailed its freight haulage system. In consequence, road transporters who have stepped into the breach sometimes have to wait in 40km-long queues, while belching noxious gases into the atmosphere because ports are congested. The resulting demurrage charges are inevitably, ultimately borne by the consumer.
“Inexplicably, you have ministers who attack the very private sector the president is inviting to be an essential part of a social compact in a programme to rebuild our economy and enable higher growth.
“You do not need to dig too deeply to discover that most of the country’s failures are linked to corruption somewhere in the system: a tender that should never have been awarded, a job that should have gone to a better-qualified, more deserving and less factionally aligned person. This is happening on the watch of the ANC government,” said Msimang.
The “litany of economic and social woes — crime, unemployment, destitution — associated with my beloved ANC is not only embarrassing, but also defies enumeration”.
He suggested the ANC is failing to heed warnings that signs of its own decline are attributable to widely held perceptions that its members and “deployees” are corrupt, that the organisation has a high tolerance threshold for venality, and that the deployment of unsuitable people accounts for the government’s deplorable levels of service to the public.
Update: December 7 2023
This story has been updated to include comment from President Cyril Ramaphosa.
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