ANC MPs Who Voted Against Zuma: Askaris or Collaborators?

Shandu KaNdaba argues that the ANC MPs who voted with the opposition in the attempt to have President Jacob Zuma impeached are worse than Askaris. She says Askaris were tortured and brutalised before they turned against their comrades.


Joe Mamasela, Apartheid’s Askari, Remorseless Killer

I write this piece in response to Tiisetso “Afrika” Makhele’s open letter to ANC MPs who voted against President Jacob Zuma in last week’s motion of no confidence http://uncensoredopinion.co.za/open-letter-dear-modern-day-askaris/. Makhele refers to the MPs as modern-day Askaris.

The word Askari means “soldier” or “police” in Kiswahili, Arabic, Turkish and a number of other languages. Colonial powers in many parts of eastern, central and southern Africa used the term widely to refer to the African soldiers who fought in their armies in Africa.

In the South African context during the struggle Askaris, were a particular breed of policemen and paramilitary personnel. They were former MK combatants who firstly turned traitor, sang their secrets for the apartheid regime and were then turned. Once turned they got handsomely paid to dish out torture, humiliation and death to their former comrades. According to author Jacob Dlamini, in his book, Askari: A Story of Collaboration and Betrayal in the Anti-Apartheid Struggle, Askaris were “ANC and Pan Africanist Congress members who, through voluntary defection or torture, had switched sides to fight against their former comrades as part of a counterinsurgency campaign.” Askaris, for the most part did not hide who they were.

To call the Members of Parliament who voted against the defeated motion of no confidence Askaris invokes strong emotions. I hesitate to use the term because it carriers a particular history and meaning. Naming matters not only for ideological reasons, naming matters because names carry truth and they have power. In my view those Members of Parliament who voted for the motion of no confidence are collaborators who cooperated very willingly and secretly with the opposition parties to defeat their own party.

There was no question of coercion in their choice to vote with the opposition. With Askaris, whilst they always in the end made a personal choice to put on the mantle of Askari, they were often tortured and brutalised to do so. The ANC parliamentarians who voted with the opposition to were not tortured to betray the party that gave them their seat in parliament. They cast their treacherous votes willingly. I suspect given some of their utterances the defense of this treachery will be based on some delusion of moral superiority. They will claim their motives were pure in making the choice to collaborate with the opposition. These MPs will choose to forget that they made an individual choice they were not entitled to make as it was neither their name nor their face on the ballot in the last general election – it was the banner and the logo of the ANC on the ballot. It is the organisation that voters voted into power. Collaborating with opposition parties against your own is in my view inexcusable in a system of government that does not elect individuals. Your conscious should always be the party line for you are in parliament SOLELY on the back of the party being voted in. It’s astonishing that these law makers do not understand the distinction between proportional representation and majority election systems.

These Members of parliament are full of a delusional appreciation of their own righteousness. They congratulate themselves on being unsusceptible to wrongdoing knowing that the South African mainstream media is not known for its great investigative prowess where those they like are in question.

Make no mistake these collaborators are narcissists who are concerned only with the self. Last week, they arrogantly and strongly reacted to the limitations imposed on them by the party that elected them to Parliament and whose votes they represent. Their moral superiority was sacrificed for what I am sure they think is “righteous” betrayal. Betrayal can never be anything but perfidious.

The African National Congress is at a crossroads. When the party was unbanned it absorbed within its structures many internal movements amongst them the Anglo American funded United Democratic Front (UDF) and beneficiaries of the Oppenheimer & Rupert conceived Urban Foundation. It was taken for granted that these groups held the same values as the ANC. I believe many did and still do. It was when Monopoly Capital was finally threatened and the Economic Liberation of our people put on the table for discussion and implementation that those who are personally beholden to White Monopoly Capital proved they would rather see the movement destroyed rather than lose their proximity to white supremacy.

The ANC has some work to do in finding and expelling collaborators. Then there is deep organisational work that needs to be done to align all ANC members and office bearers to the values and principles of democratic centralism and radical economic transformation.

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  1. I believe they are aware of the difference between proportional representation and Constituency based Electoral systems, they are just so desperate to get rid of Zuma they don’t care about it.

    I didn’t believe it when these words were echoed by none other than Steven Friedman on SAFM when he said “people are willing to break all the rules just to get rid of Zuma”

    Steven Friedman is no supporter of Zuma nor the ANC however this was one of the most objective statements I have ever heard from him over the years and this at the risk of his career considering how those who have a dissenting view against the Anti Zuma Rhetoric are being labelled and their characters assassinated.

    1. Dear Kobedi

      In fairness to Steve Friedman, he has been exceptionally vocal about moves to break the constitution and rules just to remove Pres Zuma. Like Advocate Vuyani Ngalwana, they dont like Zuma but they ask not to compromise the constitution just so as to remove him.

      We’ve carried some of their views here on UnCensored.



  2. Ay! Ally a traitor is a traitor whether they sold out during apartheid or today, as the ANC traitors had done. The rule of the revolution is; ‘you stand on its way it grinds you to powder’, so shall it be with every traitor who stands on the way of economic emancipation of Black people.

    1. Dear Stalin, Ally and everyone debating about the issue of whether the ANC MPs are traitors, Askaris, Collaborators, I have just posted parts of the ANC Constitution which will give clarity.

  3. And i do respect everyone’s opinion as long as we agree to disagree. My only worry is when we continue to use the same system that was used to us or introduced to us by apartheid to deal with each other. We cant call each other names because we disagree – we cant disown our brothers and sisters because they disagree with us. We dont resign from jobs because we dont agree with the boss. Maybe we should learn a bit of tollerance towards each other we might be a bit stronger together maybe we need to value each other and understand that each ANC member is important to the organization and the country. Unity can get us far.Lets help each other to find solutions than call each other names

  4. Another term from the past to describe their actions – “Impimpi” – those were not welcomed amongst us. The same must be attributed to present day dissidents with their so called righteousness..

  5. Ally if they were in parliament cause their faces were in a ballot box I wouldn’t give a toss how they voted..they are there because they are deployed by the ANC, they are there to carry out the policies of the ANC..if they feel that they don’t agree with the decisions taken by the ANC they must resign,,

  6. There is no Personal Choice where people have voted you into a position power where you must represent them and fight for them to win their struggles in bettering their lives.
    Remember, parties when they campaign, they will be promoting themselves through their Manifestos and people will be choosing which party to vote based on the Manifesto which resonates with their Socio-Economic situation at that point in time.
    People who are sent to represent a particular Political Party in Parliament, they are sent there to carry that Party’s Manifesto which is their mandate to be in Parliament and if those people feel that they no longer want to represent the Party’s mandate anymore, they must leave the party not betray the people who sent them there.
    It is betrayal, nothing less and nothing more.
    Those are Traitors of the highest order.
    The very same Hypocritical Organizations want ANCs MPs to vote with them but they discipline their MPs who vote with other parties. Why?
    Because they rightly believe that by so doing, the MP/MEC/MMP would have betrayed the electorate.
    To them this nonsense of using your own mind or conscience or whatever reasoning for betraying your employers is, doesn’t apply. Those Parliamentarians are our employees, they can earn more than I earn (and that is what makes me even more upset with these Traitors: earning a lot of money for selling out) but I sent them there with my vote.

  7. Interesting article indeed. I tend to agree that organisational discipline was bridged to this extent there must be consequences. Here is my take on the article and collaboration matter;

    1. The ANC has its own processes to nominate and or elect people to represent it in parliament. To an extent that the the ANC processes are flawed and or are questionable we cannot put the blame solely on the collaborators. These flawed process negated the true cadres of the movement who have dedicated their lives to the being of the movement and instead allowed people who have not been tried and tested to be our representatives in Parliament. The ANC must take full responsibility for this.
    2. Prior to the secret ballot in parliament the SACP and other individuals like Mondli Gungubela, Hanekom etc openly defied the directive of the ANC. Why didn’t the ANC take appropriate action then and only waited for the outcome of the secret ballot? Is this not demonstration of the paralysis which the ANC finds itself in?
    3. The Pariament process was a secret ballot should the ANC take action against people how would they prove beyond reasonable doubt that they voted against the directive of the party? This action could undermine the commitment of the ANC to the supreme law of the country, the Constitution. This will further divide the movement and this is the last thing we want towards 2019 National Elections. The NEC should take stock of its own behavior as it would seem the root cause of the problem lies at their door step. If NEC members are a coherent force all sundry will be same, unfortunately that’s not the case.
    4. The ANC should instead of witch hunting find a permanent solution to negate all foreign tendencies on the years and months leading to its elective conference.

    In conclusion the NEC knows which leaders play to the public gallery outside the discipline of the ANC this should be dealt with decisively but be delinked from the vote of no confidence. The ANC leadership should be decisive in negating and or dealing with detractors of the movement who destroy the movement from within its ranks at all levels. The communists call it purging the party of counter revolutionaries unfortunately in this instance the now tinted yellow party would be affected as it has become counter revolutionary itself.

  8. I see no reason to call people names when they disagree with you. It goes back to the mental slavery that Africans have we never take responsibility for anything and when people disagree with us we call them and disrespect them by insinuating they cant think for themselves somebody musy have put this in their mind thays an insult . Even the Askaris of the time they had a choice they are not the only once who got tortured most of our people were and they chose to remain firm .This MPs made their own choices just like everyone else who make their choices in life and nobody says your choice is better its a personal choice and everybody should respect each others choices.The fact that your choice is different to mine dont make yours better or superior to mine.Lets not continue to undermine and disrespect each other we need to understand that through disagreements we build this democracy and we will continue to build it through the same disagreements. I rememeber back in the days when Bantu Holimisa had some disagreements with the ANC instead of trying to reason with him we kicked him out similarly with Julius we did the same did we solve anything NO did we get more votes after that absolutely No did we loose more members Yes .Is that how we run our families as well at home when a child is out of control we kick them out of the house? We need to understand that people have their own brains lets appreciate that they use them .I for one didnt support the motion even after i looked at all posibilities but i dont believe is right for us as Africans to call each other names when we disagree .

    1. Ally,

      The use of the words”people disagree with you” is a misdiagnosis which reveals an incorrect premise.

      You don’t diagree with your organization and do so by taking an action that destroys the very fabric of what you may claim to love and represent.

      Disagreements occur inside the organization. Anything outside becomes a betrayal which needs to be given a name. That name is called Traitor. In the private sector one will not even be allowed to work a day more after any public disagreement with their organization.

  9. I feel to betrayed to properlycomment. I am hurt. The MP’s and ministers fail us, they blame the President. I am hurt.

  10. TRUE..an Askari can make an excuse that he was tortured for turning against his/her comrades..tl

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