ANC supporters, MK vets surround Luthuli House

MK vets outside of Luthuli House. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

MK vets outside of Luthuli House. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Members of the Umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) and supporters of the ANC have surrounded the party’s headquarters in Johannesburg in anticipation that anti-Zuma protests may reach their doorstep.

The streets surrounding Luthuli House are filled with different groups of supporters wearing green, yellow and black. One ANC supporter held a poster aloft which read: “Hands off our leader, our president, our movement”.

The members of MKMVA formed a line at the entrance of Luthuli House, while the rest dispersed around the area in their uniforms.

MKMVA chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe had deployed members to Luthuli House after hearing that the Democratic Alliance had planned to march to the ANC headquarters.

The DA, however, decided to instead march to Mary Fitzgerald Square, a block away from the ANC offices.

MKMVA members told the Mail & Guardian that they were here nevertheless to protect the building if there was an “attack”.

When asked how they would respond if the DA marched to Luthuli, one member responded: “we’ll see”.

This Friday has been called a day of national shutdown by civil rights organisations following President Jacob Zuma’s midnight Cabinet reshuffle, which included the ousting of former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Gordhan and his former deputy Mcebisi Jonas encouraged South Africans to mobilise following the reshuffle, saying “our country is not for sale”.

Opposition parties and members of the alliance SACP and Cosatu have all called on Zuma to resign.

The DA and EFF have also asked that the Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete schedule a vote of no confidence in Zuma. Mbete complied and the date has been set.

In the meantime, MKMVA members say that regardless of the criticism against Zuma, people cannot march on Luthuli House.

“Zuma will come and go.
But the ANC is here to stay,” one member said.

“If I fight with a child, I’m not going to go to his house and fight with his whole family. I fight with the child only.” 

We are here to protect our president
ANC supporters in the Luthuli House area say they have also taken to the streets to “protect” their headquarters and their president. 

“We are here to defend and protect Luthuli house. It is our role to make sure that we defend our president, Jacob Zuma. We are ready. As the young lions of the ANC it is out duty to chase them away by any means,” said Ntlakanipho Mantangayi, who came all the way from the Eastern Cape to “make sure that people see that the talks of a division within the ANC are not true”.

Some supporters carry sjamboks and golf clubs and sing struggle songs while a heavy police presence watches over the proceedings.

“We are here to protect Luthuli House. We are here to protect our president. We are here to protect our country from white monopoly who benefited in our ancestral land. We are not here to fight. We are here because the likes Tambo have taught us to be peaceful. Here we are protecting our property,” said Dieketseng Khumalo, who is a member of the ANCWL in Soweto’s Ward 51.

Thandi Nhleko who is also an ANC supporter said: “It is simple, Maimane must go to his peers and live. We put Zuma in that position and we are the ones that are going to remove. Presidents are protected everywhere in the world but ours is disrespected by young people”.

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography.
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