Durban – The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal said on Monday that the party’s chief whip Jackson Mthembu should lead by example by resigning first, rather than mobilising others in the party to do so.
“Mthembu should do the honourable thing and resign first, without mobilising others to do the same,” said provincial spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli.
Ntuli was responding to Mthembu’s comments made in a City Press report at the weekend, where he was quoted as having said that the current leadership had reduced the party to something that left a bitter taste in the mouth.
“Why should we not step down, given that we have messed up? All these things happened under our watch,” Mthembu was quoted as saying.
The party’s poor performance in the August 3 local government elections had also caused some tensions after it lost three key metros: Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay.
Several senior ANC leaders have also expressed their unhappiness about the National Prosecuting Authority’s decision to charge Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan with fraud.
‘He must not be a populist’
Ntuli said Mthembu was a member of the National Executive Committee and the National Working Committee and both these groups had several opportunities to raise and discuss challenges facing the party after the elections.
“The most dangerous thing that a leader can do is to conduct themselves like comrade Jackson – he has gone outside of the agreed positions of the ANC.
“He is elevating himself and positioning himself to be above the collective of the ANC.”
Ntuli said the ANC worked as a collective and “if you behave like Jackson, you become a populist. He must not be a populist”.
“If his views were not entertained by the NEC, then he should not go outside of the organisation and speak to the media about his views. This means that all 90 NEC members can go to the media and express their views, but they can’t because we are not a foundation of individuals.”
Ntuli said Mthembu should be reined in.
“He must be made to account for his utterances and he must explain why his views are more important that the collective.”
Testing public opinion
Ntuli said he did not believe that Mthembu was speaking for a particular faction, but rather for himself.
“I don’t think he is speaking for a collective. I think he is the first person who is brave enough and hopes that others will follow suit. This does not necessarily mean that he has a following.”
Maybe Mthembu was testing public opinion, said Ntuli,
“Remember that Mthembu is not just an ordinary member of the ANC, he is the chief whip, and he has the power to divide the ANC caucus in Parliament.”
Ntuli said the ANC in KZN firmly disagreed with Mthembu’s utterances and believed that President Jacob Zuma and the NEC should not resign.
Ntuli said Zuma would finish his term of office.
‘This is the beginning of the end of Zuma’s term’
However, political analyst Protas Madlala disagreed, saying he believed that this was the beginning of the end of Zuma’s term in office.
“It is a fact that [Jackson] Mthembu is not the only senior leader to speak out. Sipho Pityana and many other leaders have come out guns blazing and this shows that the leaders do not see eye to eye and are divided.
“To be honest, [the party’s elective conference in] 2019 is too far for them to keep Jacob Zuma around. If the likes of [secretary general] Gwede Mantashe and [deputy president] Cyril Ramaphosa support Pravin Gordhan, they do not have a choice but to remove Zuma because I am afraid that, this time, this is it for Zuma. This is the beginning of the end of his term.”
Madlala said lines would be drawn on November 2 when Gordhan appeared in court to answer to charges stemming from an investigation of his conduct.
“It will be interesting to see who goes out to support him,” Madlala said.
NPA head Shaun Abrahams announced this month that Gordhan, former deputy SARS commissioner Ivan Pillay and former SARS commissioner Oupa Magashula, would be charged with fraud relating to Pillay’s early retirement and the extension of his contract.
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