Yesterday’s #OccupyLuthuliHouse protest is perceived by many as the clearest sign yet of how deep the divide has grown between the pro- and anti-Jacob Zuma factions.
When your own private security force in the form of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) refuses to obey your instructions, what’s a secretary-general of the African National Congress to do?
This was the dilemma faced by Gwede Mantashe at Luthuli House yesterday when he called for the organisers of the movement to submit their memorandum to him. Angry at Mantashe’s apparent legitimisation of the movement, some MKMVA members decided the memorandum handover wasn’t going to happen.
“We were in Luthuli House in the morning, we greeted our comrades from MK and even some comrades from the youth league, and there was no problem,” said Occupy organiser Sasabona Manganye.
“Until now, when the SG wanted us to come and submit the memorandum, that is when our own comrades in MK began to conduct themselves in a foreign way.
“What was most disturbing was when they were defying their own leader, Kebby Maphatsoe. They were supposed to listen to him but did not.”
And it was with great gusto that a phalanx of MKMVA members swept journalists, ANC supporters and onlookers away before them, along with Mantashe – and they were not afraid of digging an elbow into kidneys or delivering the occasional punch in order to get their point of “Move! Move! Move!” across.
The memorandum was virtually snatched from Manganye before Mantashe was swept off in a wave of camouflaged outfits. But Mantashe managed to take some control when he cautioned the MKMVA against giving the media “airtime”.
It was much too little, way too late as members of the MKMVA, seemingly over-empowered with their own irrelevance among the presidential guard, metro police and other official security, had clashed with the media all day by slapping cameras down and revelling in paranoia over who was allowed outside Luthuli House. And then everyone went home, with the MKMVA claiming victory over silencing their ANC comrades.