In an editorial written exclusively for the press, Patel said the eight days leading up to next week’s scheduled motion to table a vote of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma would be massive. Opposition parties have called for the vote to be postponed to allow the Constitutional Court to hear arguments around whether the ballot should be secret.

Patel’s editorial comes after he attended a chaotic memorial service on Sunday for struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada in Durban – which was disrupted by the ANC Youth League – and Patel says it is now the time to defend South Africa’s hard-earned gains.

“Starting today we have eight days. Make them eight days that shake our beloved country. Eight days to a motion of no confidence. Eight days of encouraging each of my network to find and lobby an ANC MP. Eight days in which I will work tirelessly to persuade our own comrades. Eight days in which there is a pregnant possibility of ridding ourselves of this home-grown disaster of a State President.”

Patel was involved in military and political underground work during the apartheid era‚ and was detained in 1990 for his role in Operation Vula‚ a plot to mobilise anti-apartheid opposition.

The former director-general of the Department of Transport‚ Patel says it’s time for a broad unity to stem “the decay and speak with one voice for a renewal of our historic mission.”

“Some have usurped power‚ have begun to threaten our constitutional paradigm and are‚ it seems‚ intent on furthering their own enrichment. It’s time to defend our earned gains‚ and to do this within and outside of our movement.”

Patel was part of Operation Vula together with other operatives such as Gordhan‚ Mac Maharaj‚ Siphiwe Nyanda‚ Billy Nair and Curnick Ndlovu.

He was detained and charged for his role in Operation Vula in 1990 and was granted indemnity in 1991. Upon his release from prison‚ he joined the ANC delegation at Codesa‚ which negotiated the peaceful transition to democracy.