During 1986 the ANC launched an underground operation called Operation Vula, also known as Operation Vulindlela (meaning open the way). The present-day perception, in the minds of the masses, is that this operation’s main purpose was to smuggle freedom fighters (aka terrorists) into South Africa and maintain open communication links between the ANC leaders in exile, at home and in prison.
This general perception was cunningly designed -- to scam the masses into believing that Operation Vula had very little to do with violence and bloodshed of any sort, but the story of Operation Vula is far more complex than most people will ever realize. To this very day the ANC regards it as one of their most effective ‘secret’ operations ever executed.
The operation was commanded by Oliver Tambo, the ANC president in exile, and Joe Slovo, the chairperson of the South African Communist party. Mac Maharaj was the commander of the operation within South Africa, and reported to the then ANC intelligence chief, Jacob Zuma. At the time Maharaj worked closely with Schabir Shaik's two brothers, Yunis Shaik and Moe Shaik.
In Padraig O'Malley’s book, Shades of Difference: Mac Maharaj and the Struggle for South Africa (2007), O'Malley discloses that Vula was a sophisticated, secret arms-importation business as well as a propaganda and crisis-management operation in the mass democratic movement. Vula opened lines of communication between Tambo in Lusaka and Nelson Mandela, who at the time was living quite comfortably in a warder’s house on the premises of Victor Verster Prison.
A lesser-known fact about Operation Vula is that it continued to operate after Nelson Mandela's release in February 1990, and for three years after his speech in August 1990 when he reiterated the total commitment of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe and the SACP to the Groote Schuur Minute. O'Malley’s book also reveals that Mandela, from his release onward, put his full support behind organizing Operation Vula along the lines suggested by Maharaj and others.
The Groote Schuur Minute provided for the establishment of a working group by both parties. The country’s current President, Jacob Zuma, was among one of the ANC’s representatives nominated for this task.
The contemporary perceptions of Zuma’s involvement in Operation Vula are eloquently summed-up by Jeremy Gordin, author of Zuma: A biography, in a short piece published on politicsweb titled, The Zuma alumni, dated 12 June 2009.
Shortly thereafter, on 6 August 1990, the two parties extended the consensus to include several new issues. The so-called Pretoria Minute included the suspension of the armed struggle by the ANC and its military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe. Further talks with the terrorists led to The National Peace Accord of 14 September 1991 and prepared the way for the CODESA negotiations, which turned into a mess.
In his August 1990 speech, Mandela repeated his earlier promise made to F.W. de Klerk: “I also made an undertaking that I personally, together with the National Executive Committee, will do whatever we can to ensure that steps are taken to guarantee strict adherence to the Groote Schuur Minute.”
Yet, it was under Mandela's command that a core procedure of Operation Vula was ordered to continue until late 1993.
The procedure, operated under the cover of a ‘legitimate’ tourist safari called “Africa Hinterland”. The ‘business’ made over 40 trips into South Africa by truck, carrying up to a ton of weapons on each trip hidden in secret compartments welded under the truck seats. The drivers were mainly volunteers recruited from the Communist parties in the UK and Holland. The passengers were international tourists mostly from Australia and Europe who had no idea that under their seats were secret compartments filled with guns and explosives destined for the killing of innocent civilians in South Africa. A picture of the Bedford truck can be viewed here, where it is on display at Liliesleaf.
The sordid business was kept a closely guarded secret within the top ranks of the ANC until 2001. The story was eventually told, in the same year, in the documentary film - The Secret Safari.
According to this source (a synopsis of the documentary in pdf format) the operation amounted to about 90% of arms that found their way into South Africa during the critical final period leading up to the April 1994 elections which gave ruling power to Mandela’s beloved ANC. We will probably never know how many of those weapons were used in illegal activities – in bank heists, robberies and murders across the country, and how many are still in circulation today.
What we do know is that after Mandela signed the Pretoria Minute in August 1990, having unilaterally declared that the ANC would suspend the armed struggle, violence escalated dramatically - especially in KwaZulu/Natal which became a killing field as supporters of the ANC and the IFP engaged in ferocious competition. Mandela, of course, acted stupid and blamed a mysterious third force for the chaos. The two-faced terrorist even confronted De Klerk with his concerns about the third force and accused South African security force for being involved… What a bloody hypocrite!
Mandela cannot deny that he never knew of Operation Vula’s existence, because in a press statement delivered during June 1991, in which this hypocrite declared: “Without question, we are the force for peace in our country…,” he spoke about the indemnification of ANC comrades who were “associated with Operation Vulindlela and who successfully evaded all attempts by the security services to capture them.” (Source)
What he didn’t tell the press was that the operation was still in full swing and that Africa Hinterland Tours was still smuggling loads of weapons and explosives into the country.
Significant caches of Operation Vula’s smuggled weapons were dug up after the elections in 1995, but guess who took possession of them? … Mandela’s new ANC government!!??!!
This posting was inspired after viewing a graphic organogram designed, in Afrikaans, by Cobus Prinsloo (Zuma se binnekring - Grafika24) which illustrates how many Operation Vula members are today holding key positions in the Zuma Administration.
The following is based on the representation by Grafika24:
(With some additional info added by Tia Mysoa)
Official spokesperson (and spin-doctor) of President Jacob Zuma.
See also and earlier posting: The Latest on Mac Maharaj.
Minister of Police
He recently dismissed allegations that the security cluster of ministers is suppressing the media over Nkandla. He has also refused to intervene in the farm murder crisis.
Minister of State Security
It was he who recently declared that it is against the law to publish and distribute images of President Jacob Zuma's private Nkandla residence.
Zuma's personal representative in Parliament.
He was former Minister of Communications from 2009 - 2010 and South African military commander. He is heavily implicated in the Arms Deal scam, and received, as the Sunday Times revealed, a massively discounted Mercedes Benz from EADS in the same racket that saw Tony Yengeni jailed. Arms-deal middleman Fana Hlongwane financed a R4-million home for Nyanda the moment he was prepared to step down as defence force chief… The house the arms deal bought.
Chief of the South African Defence Force
This fellow served as a field commander fighting against the South African government in the 1980s. The ANC wasted no time transferring him to the new SANDF when MK was incorporated into it in 1994.
Presidential Political advisor
He formerly served as Minister of Safety and Security from May 2002 to September 2008, and as Minister of Defence from September 2008 to 2009.
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans
Formerly Minister of Home Affairs from 2004 to 2009 and Minister of Correctional Services from 2009 to 2012. She was the one who welcomed Zimbabweans into South Africa without visas.
(She is married to Charles Nqakula.)
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development
He served as Minister of Public Works under Mandela. Under the leadership of Mbeki, he served as Minister of Public Enterprises (1999–2004) and Minister of Transport.
Minister of Correctional Services
While serving as he national Minister of Transport from 2009 to 2012 he accepted a Mercedes Benz S500 from contractors with contracts worth R400-million in the department… Transport minister accepts 'thank you' Merc
This all-round scumbag was nominated last month to be the next head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate. He was nominated by three Operation Vula operatives, namely: Mthethwa, Cwele, and Ndebele.
If this is not evidence of a democracy in swift decline, then I don’t know what is!