Military vets accuse Ace Magashule of abandoning them
Military veterans who embarked on a campaign to “rid” Durban of foreigners blame ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule for failing to heed their cries and have attributed their actions to a lack of support from the ANC.
The campaign began on Monday when they shut down foreign-owned businesses operating in and around Durban's The Workshop shopping centre.
However, on Tuesday the police intervened when violence broke out as the group tried to remove foreigners, and stopped their protest action.
Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) leader Zibuse Cele told TimesLIVE on the sidelines of the failed march that they were “tired of waiting”.
“SG [secretary-general] said he would come back recently but it's been almost a month now. It is the false promises, the promises they fail to keep, that make us angry. Because soldiers are hungry. We have many problems,” said Cele.
Magashule and MKMVA president Kebby Maphatsoe visited the province in October. They met leaders representing the veterans to find solutions to their issues. Their demands to Magashule included:
- housing for MK and other liberation war veterans;
- decent employment and opportunities; and
- the banning of foreigners from employment in transport, hospitality, education, medical sectors and strategic SOE positions, including work as domestic and farm workers.
The veterans called for refugee camps to be built for foreigners, saying: “This must not be an infinite exercise but until all illegal immigrants are deported back to their countries.”
Magashule promised to work on the problems with urgency but the veterans said he had since left them in a lurch.
Their campaign ground to a halt when police fired teargas at men in civilian clothing who stormed businesses, vandalising shops near King Dinizulu Park (formerly known as Botha Park).
#MKMVA Campaign to remove foreigners occupying prime trading space in Durban has been halted by Police after a group in plain clothing stormed shops along Botha Park. The crowd was dispersed, unclear if campaign will continue, heavy police presence @TimesLIVE pic.twitter.com/LxjuFdftO0— ZimasaMatiwane (@ZimasaMatiwane) November 3, 2020
But the MKMVA distanced itself from the disruption and are adamant that they will not be stopped, despite not having a permit to march.
“There is no MK soldier who vandalised shops, I suspect it was just thugs,” Cele explained.
“We are marching without a permit because we don’t abuse anyone when we march, but the police are blocking us. They are saying our leaders [the ANC] are running away from authorising the march. We did tell some of the ANC leaders, they know about this campaign.”
He denied that the campaign was xenophobic, saying instead it was a fight, not just for MK veterans but for all South Africans.
“The shops that they run will be run by South Africans. We will be hired in industries that are dominated by foreigners like truck driving. We want all those industries to hire South Africans,” said Cele.
“Our fight is non-partisan. Just like we fought for democracy for all South Africans, we are fighting for all South Africans again.”