In an eyebrow-raising speech, ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said South Africa without the ruling party cannot be imagined and that it could lead to a civil war.
But Duarte did not specify what exactly could cause the civil war if the ruling party was kicked out of power. She made these controversial remarks during a virtual memorial service for the late Rajes Pillay, a former Struggle stalwart who hailed from Durban and played a leading liberating role in the ANC and the now-defunct Natal Indian Congress.
“Comrades, it is very difficult when you speak with people who doubt that the ANC should continue. You know in your heart that you can never live in a country where there is no ANC because the opposite to that would be chaos and undoubtedly, a civil war that we all don’t want,” Duarte said.
Pillay worked with the late Oliver Tambo, Yusuf Dadoo, Phyllis Naidoo, Judson Khuzwayo and Shadrack Maphumulo. She underwent underground training and became the communications and logistics officer for the ANC underground operations in Angola and eSwatini.
Other ANC stalwarts who spoke at the service included former minister and presidential spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, and former KZN director-general, Nhlanhla Ngidi. Maharaj lamented that the country had abandoned activism and left it to NGOs serving their own agendas.
Ngidi lamented that the ANC was deviating from the values of Pillay who advocated for members to speak out. He said now members are afraid to speak out, fearing victimisation. The neighbouring kingdom of eSwatini featured prominently during the memorial service because it was the host country for the late Pillay. Former deputy minister for international relations and co-operation, Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, spoke about the dangers of working there.
Ebrahim said in one of the many conversations he had with the late Pillay, she lamented that the kingdom was a “dangerous place” for exiled freedom fighters as some eSwatini police collaborated with the apartheid regime to hunt them down.
“Swaziland was a very dangerous place, there was a collaboration between the South African security police and some elements in the Swazi police. People were being killed; kidnapped. I know one house where security police knocked, a woman opened the door and the police killed everyone. So Swaziland was a very dangerous place,” Ebrahim told mourners.
“That is why you even have the famous Magogo movement, a celebration of how Emaswati sheltered and provided for Struggle stalwarts. That a few individuals went against this well-established norm does not diminish the role played by this country and many more united under the banner of the then Organisation of African Unity to rid this continent of the scourge of apartheid,” Dlamini said in response to the accusations of selling out.