MK Vets: ‘Don’t dare touch us’

In a direct challenge to the provincial ANC and police, the MK veterans who have been storming municipal offices in the midlands have warned of “major problems” if anyone tries to stop them.

“There would be major problems if anyone tries to use force to stop our members from going to the municipalities to seek work opportunities,” Mkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) provincial chairperson Themba Mavundla said on Wednesday.

Mavundla is also the head of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial department of community safety.

MKMVA members have been staging sit-ins at municipalities in the region, forcing council bosses into meetings and turning away members of the public wanting to access municipal services.

The strong-arm tactics employed by MKMVA members, some of whom have been armed during their invasions, have resulted in the ANC threatening to take action against them if disruptions at municipalities continue.

“Any member of the ANC found to be associated with these acts of holding staff in municipalities hostage and disrupting the functioning of municipalities will be dealt with decisively in terms of the ANC constitution,” ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli said last weekend.

However, Mavundla was unfazed.

“Such threats are unhelpful. You can’t reduce people who are hungry and unemployed to criminals. The reason our members go to these municipalities is not to disrupt or hold anyone hostage, they are going there to look for jobs — they are hungry.

“What we are dealing with here is a political problem that needs a political solution,” Mavundla said.

Despite incidents of intimidation in uMgungundlovu, Msunduzi and Richmond in recent weeks, police are yet to take action against MKMVA members who have been causing disruption at these municipalities.

Mavundla, who as community safety HOD has major clout in policing decisions in the province, denied having any influence on the police attitude towards MKMVA members, saying there were no grounds for either police or his office to take any action against them.

“Why would anyone want to act against people who are searching for jobs? Those members are not engaging in any criminal activity — they have not assaulted or intimidated anyone,” he said.

The MKMVA members, who are mainly based in the Moses Mabhida region that includes the Pietermaritzburg, in February invaded the city’s flagship housing project, Aloe Ridge in Westgate-Grange.

Six months later there have been no arrests and authorities have made no effort to remove 200 occupiers who have taken over more than 100 of the complex’s 9 500 rental housing units. It is not known if they are paying rent.

In what points to a growing gulf between the ANC and members of the MKMVA, who accuse the ruling party of reneging on its promise to provide them with jobs, the MKMVA in the Moses Mabhida region on Wednesday blamed corruption within ANC-led government entities for the conduct of its members.

“Despite the ANC having adopted resolutions mandating government entities to assist unemployed MKMVA members, municipalities and other spheres of government continue to turn away our members seeking assistance,” MKMVA Moses Mabhida regional secretary Menzi Mkhize said. “Instead, what we see is a trend where people dish out tenders and jobs to their personal friends and relatives — this is what is upsetting our members,” said Mkhize.

The MKMVA backs former president Jacob Zuma whose supporters are at loggerheads with the ANC’s national leadership.