Jacob Zuma, Mbokodo and the death of Thami Zulu


Senior Member
Nov 9, 2005
Paul Trewhela writes:

In his recent biography of Jacob Zuma, Jeremy Gordin cites my article from 1993, "The dilemma of Albie Sachs: ANC constitutionalism and the death of Thami Zulu" (Searchlight South Africa No 11, October 1993, available here), but fails to pursue the questions I raised. Gordin was winner last year of the Mondi Shanduka Newspaper Journalist of the Year award. His book, Zuma: A Biography, was published by Jonathan Ball Publishers, Johannesburg, on 1st December 2008.

These questions directed a searching analysis to the attitude of the African National Congress to the practice of constitutionalism and legality, and predate the establishment of the South African Constitution of 1994. They have a bearing on the historic responsibility of Jacob Zuma as former head of counter-intelligence in the Department of National Intelligence and Security of the ANC in exile (i.e., the ANC "security department", or iMbokodo, the grinding stone), as current president of the ANC, and as the likely President of the government of South Africa as from April this year.
These crucial questions derive from the murder in exile in Lusaka, Zambia, of a former senior commander of Umkhonto weSizwe on the eve of the unbanning of the ANC, and the progress of the ANC towards becoming the overwhelmingly dominant party of government under the new Constitution.

This article was an inquiry into the quality of jurisprudence in the ANC, focussed on the finding of an ANC commission of inquiry into the death in Lusaka in November 1989 of a senior commander of its military wing Umkhonto weSizwe, Thami Zulu (real name, Mzwakhe [or Muziwakhe - PT] Ngwenya). The commission had been headed by Sachs, a long-standing ANC member and supporter, and since 1994 an eminent judge in the Constitutional Court.
The report of the Sachs Commission into the death of Thami Zulu referred extensively to the ANC's Code of Conduct, which it adopted at its national conference at Kabwe in Zambia in 1985, its last before returning legally to South Africa. The Kabwe conference was principally a cover-up and whitewash for the ANC's suppression by torture, imprisonment and public executions of the mutiny of over 90 percent of its trained troops in Angola the previous year, which was above all a pro-democracy protest.
This is an indictment upon the Sachs commission, the ANC as the organisation that appointed it, the legal structure of the South African state in which the commissioners (including Sachs) have subsequently held various posts, and the senior office-bearer responsible for counter-intelligence in the ANC at the time of Thami Zulu's murder, Jacob Zuma.

This case remains open.

This is an important article, pointing out to us:
  1. The role of Jacob Zuma in a very shady affair (yet another one...);
  2. The ANC's long-running tendency to hide, obscure and lie about its mistakes, missteps and murders;
  3. The fact that Jacob Zuma is going to be our president soon, despite all that has taken place.