Veteran activists elected as Patrons of new non-parliamentary organisation, Active Citizens Movement (ACM)
(Siva Naidoo, Mvuso Msimang and Ms Eunice David)
By Subry Govender (
(Veteran activist Mvuso Msimang addressing the ACM launch)Five prominent veteran anti-apartheid and struggle activists have been elected as Patrons of the new progressive non-parliamentary forum, Active Citizens Movement (ACM), after it was officially launched at the St Aidan’s Church Hall in Durban on Saturday, July 22.
They are Dr Albertina Sisulu, daughter of the late ANC president and South Africa’s first Nobel Peace Prize winner Chief Albert Luthuli; Professor Jerry Coovadia, former official of the Natal Indian Congress and United Democratic Front(UDF); Judge Thumba Pillay, former NIC and UDF official and activist; Dr Zuleika Mayet, a veteran activist and author, and Dr Paddy Kearney, former executive official of Diakonia and social activist.
Their elevation as Patrons took place soon after the election of officials of the ACM.
Mr Ben Madokwe, a Durban activist, was elected as the chairperson. He took over from interim chairperson, Mr Siva Naidoo, former NIC and UDF activist of Tongaat, who held the fort since a new forum was mooted 18 months ago.
Ms Eunice David, the interim secretary of Phoenix, was elected the deputy chairperson of the ACM; Crispin Hemson, general secretary; Xoliswa Ncani, administrative secretary; Himesh Singh, organising secretary; and R Karrim, treasurer.
(Veteran activist Trevor Bonhomme at the ACM launch)The guest speaker, Mr Mvuso Msimang, a former ANC MK struggle veteran, called on President Jacob Zuma to step down from office immediately in order to save the country from plunging into further problems.
He was responding to a question after he had delivered his speech about whether President Zuma should “do the right thing and step down immediately”.
“If Jacob Zuma did the honourable thing and stepped down immediately then he would save the country from further damage,” said Mr Msimang, who was a senior combatant of MK and the ANC during his many years in exile in Zambia and other countries.
“Some of us back in 2014 made an attempt to talk to the President after the release of the Madonsela Report. We wanted him to step down immediately but we were not successful,” he said.
“I am a stalwart and veteran and I want the leadership of the ANC to follow the values and principles espoused by the people who were involved in the struggles in the ANC, Mass Democratic Movement and the UDF.
“But I think you have a bunch of bandits who have staged a coup in Government.”
Mr Msimang in his address supported the launch of the ACM and said that there was a dire need for civil society to become involved in the day to day struggles of the people.
“My call is for action by civil society. South Africa is going through its most difficult times since the dawn of democracy in April 1994. What has brought this about is the paralysis of the ANC leadership when it has been faced with internal challenges. While the enormity and complexity of the challenges are not in doubt, millions of members and supporters expected the ANC to overcome these challenges. But this has not happened.”
Mr Siva Naidoo, in his address as the Interim Chairperson, said there was a desperate need for organisations such as the ACM because “the dawn of freedom and democracy in 1994 led to political complacency that demobilised society as a whole”.
“We placed utmost faith and trust in the new South African Government. The politically-active citizenry relaxed and created an organisational vacuum in society.
“However, once the nation noticed that governing structures were being disabled to serve the narrow parochial pecuniary interests of a few, we observed an upsurge in civil society activism in recent times.”
He said the ACM was working with like-minded civil society organisations to tackle “State capture, rampant corruption, abuse of State resources, nepotism and cronyism”.
“We deplore the prevalence of a materialist crass culture of greed that is eating at the soul of our beloved country.”
The new chairperson of the ACM, Mr Ben Madokwe, came out guns blazing by supporting the call for President Zuma “to step down immediately”.
“Corruption cannot just disappear. We must actively participate to reclaim our country by removing those who are not serving the people. We must start with the Pressident,” he said.
He encouraged concerned people to participate in protest actions on August 7 and 8 for President to step down. The protest actions would coincide with the vote in Parliament on August 8 when members would decide President Zuma’s fate.
Now that the ACM has been officially launched, it is expected to interact with similar progressive organisations around the country such Save South Africa, South Africa First, Freedom Under Law, Corruption Watch, Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution and Johannesburg Against Injustice. Ends – firstname.lastname@example.org