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‘There are better discussions than terms of reference’: Maimane on ActionSA banning use of ‘comrade’

24 June 2022 - 09:00 By TimesLIVE
One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane says political leaders must focus on challenges, not terms of reference. File photo.
One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane says political leaders must focus on challenges, not terms of reference. File photo.
Image: Alon Skuy

One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane is the latest to pour cold water on ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba banning the use of the word “comrade”, saying there are more important issues to worry about.

Mashaba said “comrade” had developed a new meaning in SA and now refers to “thugs and thieves” disguised as politicians.

“The term ‘comrades’ is banned in ActionSA. Comrades are thugs and thieves. If anyone calls you comrade, you refuse, because they only call you comrade when they want to corrupt you.”

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He asked his party members to refer to each other as “actioners”.

“We are not communists. Comrade is a communist term. In ActionSA, we are ‘actioners’.” 

Weighing in on the stance, Maimane said with everything SA is facing there were better discussions than terms of reference.

“In a country beset with challenges of unemployment, load-shedding, decaying infrastructure, crime and corruption, a collapsing and failing state, surely there can be better discussions than terms of reference. Just my thoughts. We must focus on the challenges we face,” said Maimane.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the banning of the word by ActionSA demonstrated a lack of understanding of its meaning.

ActionSA’s “populist manoeuvres” were deliberate attempts to mislead the public.

“Comrade has been used within progressive movements across the world for many decades to convey a sense of common purpose, shared values and solidarity. Within the ANC and a broader democratic movement, the word continues to hold that meaning.”

Mabe said Mashaba’s attempt to associate the term with thugs and thieves was a disservice to comrades within the ANC who fought against corruption.

“It is an insult to those committed cadres who, often at great risk to themselves, have exposed wrongdoings in state-owned enterprises, municipalities, companies and other institutions. It is an insult to the overwhelming majority of ANC and alliance members who steadfastly reject all forms of corruption,” he said.

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