Durban – As disgruntled members of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) continue to pile pressure on the South African government to fast track social programmes to improve their welfare and bring back their fellow combatants who died and remain buried in foreign countries, a leader of the ANC claims around 800 freedom fighters are still buried in Zambia alone.
The figure was revealed by Lulama Ngcukayitobi, the provincial secretary of the ANC, in the Eastern Cape on Thursday.
Ngcukayitobi, speaking in Xhosa, was addressing a “Siyanqoba Rally” of the governing party in the coastal resort town of Port St John’s ahead of a municipal by-elections scheduled for November 11, 2020 across the country.
Essentially, the provincial secretary was driving home the point that the South African freedom which was attained in 1994 after years of a bitter and often bloody resistance against the apartheid regime, was obtained through blood, sweat and sacrifices by some people.
“In 2013 I was in Lusaka and I saw many graves of South African freedom fighters and exiles who are still buried there. I think the graves that we (with a delegation from SA) saw there were around 800,” he claimed.
Zambia once hosted the headquarters of the ANC in exile after the governing party was expelled from Maputo following the signing of the Nkomati Accord in March 1984 between the apartheid government and the Mozambican government of Samora Machel.
While it appears that the official records of freedom fighters who died and are buried in Zambia are not accurate, the ANC seems to be making efforts to bring the mortal remains of those people back home for decent burials.
In February this year, the Lusaka Times (a prominent Zambian newspaper), reported, based on a letter written by Ace Magashule (ANC secretary-general) to Patriotic Front secretary-general Davies Mwila, (dated January 29, 2020) that the ANC wants to start a repatriation project by first taking home former senior party figures.
The figures are former secretary-general Duma Nokwe (SG between 1958 and 1969) and former president of the ANC Women’s League, Florence Mophosho, who both died and were buried in Zambia at the time that South Africa’s ruling Party was in exile.
On internal ruling party’s ructions, Ngcukayitobi lamented the infighting, saying it was caused by members who were unwilling to bind themselves within the decisions taken by the majority or their leaders in the party.
“These issues (internal fights) are eating into the soul of the movement. This is how we are viewed by the public out there … Members of the movement must respect democratic centralism because it can’t be right that all of us can talk and take different decisions at the same time.” | Political Bureau