Alarm bells were ignored, Faku says

Former mayor Ben Fihla at his book launch with, from left, Nceba Faku, Mike Xego and Mkhuseli Jack
Picture: Mark West

Former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Nceba Faku has said of the groundswell surrounding the call for President Jacob Zuma to step down that “we elect the leaders we deserve”.

Faku took a swipe at ANC members who ignored calls to consider other choices besides Zuma ahead of the ANC’s Polokwane and Mangaung elective conferences.

Faku was speaking at NMMU on Monday night during the launch of the book, My Road to Freedom, written by ANC struggle veteran and one of his successors as Bay mayor, Ben Fihla, 84.

Faku said: “Some of the people in this room led an opinion as we were going to Polokwane that there are other choices of leaders, but delegates elected comrade Zuma.

“The choice was made and we must live with it.” Faku said alarm bells were raised again ahead of Mangaung, but yet again Zuma was re-elected.

He quoted the words of another ANC veteran, Andrew Mlangeni, from an article in City Press: “I am sad, my country is bleeding when I see what is happening, people have become so greedy, money has become the most important thing.

“They have lost the values that the ANC stood for. Today, the ANC is deeply divided, everybody wants a position, people no longer do things on a revolutionary basis, they want to be paid for everything they do.”

Faku said Fihla’s book had been launched at the right time.

“Oom Ben is the true revolutionary who still possesses all the particles of leaders who live and lead by example,” he said.

Fihla, who turns 85 next month, took guests down memory lane when he spoke of his role and the role played by the city of Port Elizabeth in the struggle for liberation.

He said the area was described as part of an urban guerrilla warfare region because it did not have forests.

“[Argentine revolutionary] Che Guevara said in his book that urban guerrilla warfare is the graveyard of the guerrillas, because they are exposed to the enemy,” Fihla said.

“We had to devise ways to hide ourselves.”

Fihla spoke about how he used his talents as a dancer and sportsman to advance the cause of the struggle.

“The police did not think I was a saboteur because I was the champion dancer here in the Eastern Cape, and I came number two in the Western Cape,” he said.

Fihla was arrested in 1964 and served 14 years in prison.

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