The People’s General

Ntsika Mzananda. Image: Supplied.

Ntsika Mzananda. Image: Supplied.

Published May 17, 2024


Here is a man whose legacy seems to be fading from the minds of his people: Bantu Harrington Holomisa, the son of the late Chief Bazindlovu Holomisa.

Allow me to reintroduce him. Born in eMqanduli, Eastern Cape, in 1955, Bantu is a prince, soldier, mediator and a strategist of note.

The young prince joined the Transkei Defence Force in 1876, with the hope of being at the forefront of defending and protecting the land of his forefathers. Sorry to disappoint him, but he was called to do much more.

In 1988, he led a bloodless coup d’état against prime minister Stella Sigcau, after forcing the resignation and exile of the former prime minister, Chief Mzimvubu Mathanzima.

Major General Holomisa’s first act as leader of the Independent Transkei was to unban 33 organisations and form a relationship with liberation movements. All this is indicative of two things: first, the unwavering commitment he has for his nation and, second, his deep courage to go against the tide.

In 1994, we witness the general’s dedication to the democratic ideals of South Africa. He led the Transkei delegation to the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) negotiations. His political fervour and strategic brilliance were exemplified through his smooth transition from regional/tribal politics to that of national politics. This all while building his popularity in his newfound political home, the ANC, where he received most of the votes at the 1994 ANC National Congress.

He served in Nelson Mandela’s Cabinet as the deputy minister of environment and tourism. However, his commitment to ensuring that the families of the soldiers who laid down they lives under his leadership in 1988 were compensated, led to his expulsion.

Refusing to bow out with grace, he formed the United Democratic Movement with former National Party senior leader Roelf Meyer. Now this is something I want us to focus on: he formed the UDM in 1997 and in 1999, led them to Parliament with 14 seats.

The question that then arises is: What ought to be his role in the current political landscape of SA? I believe it is to impart his knowledge of collaboration and nation building to the immature and inexperienced opposition benches. This is a man who built an organisation from the ground, with a right-wing of note, managing to get him to commit to a lot of leftist ideals.

There is no better man to lead our country to a stable national coalition government. Though he might not be the face of that government, we still need him.

Ntsika Mzananda serves as the National Focal Points person for the Socio-Economic Development Youth Policy Committee at the South African Institute of International Affairs