A recent Twitter exchange that saw Finance Minister Tito Mboweni take a walk down memory lane ended with controversial ANC military veteran Carl Niehaus in effect ostensibly challenging the minister’s struggle credentials.
The outspoken Mboweni often finds himself at loggerheads with various groups both within and outside the ANC and its tripartite alliance, and he is often a target for the ANC’s so-called radical economic transformation faction, of which Niehaus is considered to be a part.
Niehaus was the unofficial spokesman for Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s ultimately unsuccessful bid to become president of the ruling party in 2017. He has also often been seen supporting former president Jacob Zuma at court during Zuma’s many appearances on corruption charges, mostly in Pietermaritzburg.
When Mboweni tweeted that he’d found his old student cards from the 1980s, from when he was studying at the University of East Anglia – a public research university in Norwich, England – Niehaus produced a memory of his own – his prison card.
“Your tweet made me go down the memory lane of my own youth, and I came upon my prison card from the same time in the 1980s. Different memories, same struggle?” Niehaus tweeted.
Comrade @tito_mboweni your tweet made me go down the memory lane of my own youth, and I came upon my prison card from the same time in the 1980’s. Different memories, same struggle? pic.twitter.com/jxERnKFkYB
— Carl Niehaus (@niehaus_carl) February 28, 2020
There has always been tension between long-time ANC members who lived through the struggle years about members who fled into exile – some landing in first world countries to promote awareness of the struggle against apartheid there, as well as furthering their studies in anticipation of one day making it into government. Other members stayed in South Africa and were pursued by the authorities.
They often ended up in prison, some for long stretches at a time.
Earlier this week Niehaus found himself at the receiving end of insults and ridicule after claiming he was being followed by Chris Vick, who in turn called Niehaus a “paranoid idiot”.
Niehaus asked his MK cadres to protect him from Vick and also urged them that no matter how irritated they get while on the job, they must “just always stay within the law”.
In June last year, Niehaus opened a case of attempted murder and incitement to cause serious bodily harm at the Sandton Police Station following a tweet from a Twitter account that allegedly tweeted in Afrikaans: “You f*cking traitor. I should have shot you dead in Angola!!! Your day is close!!!”
Other social media users allegedly called for Niehaus’ eyes to be gouged out and his throat cut, commenting on a story about him calling for the implementation of the resolutions of the 54th National Conference of the ANC.