South Africa

ANC Leadership Race: Jackson Mthembu reveals Ramaphosa colours, but why did he back Zuma?

By Greg Nicolson 4 September 2017

ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu firmly backed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday as the party’s next president. Mthembu, however, has been sending apparently conflicting messages. By GREG NICOLSON.

Jackson Mthembu’s Tweets on Monday were predictable, but nevertheless confusing. The former ANC spokesperson who has since become the party’s chief whip in Parliament fully endorsed Cyril Ramaphosa, who is running against President Jacob Zuma’s preferred successor Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and others, as the next ANC president.

Mthembu was responding to questionable reports over the weekend that Ramaphosa had extra-marital affairs with students he had sponsored. “I will continue to support @DPRamaphosa to be @MYANC President. No amount of sleaze and dirt thrown at him by @StevenMogale will stop me,” wrote Mthembu on Monday on Twitter. He mistakenly referred to Sunday Independent editor Steve Motale, who wrote the article on Ramaphosa’s alleged escapades, as Steven Mogale.

Mthembu questioned why the journalist raised the claims and argued that it was because Ramaphosa could cut down on corruption.

Mthembu said Ramaphosa “has become a serious threat to those involved in state capture, their business friends and their families”. “@DPRamaphosa’s crime is his stated commitment to restore @MYANC back to its values as a movement that serves our people,” said Mthembu. “@DPRamaphosa’s crime is his stated commitment to save @MYANC and our government from all forms of ills including patronage and corruption”.

The leaking of emails between Ramaphosa and women whose studies he sponsored, the legitimacy of which is still in question, has been seen as part of dirty tactics used ahead of the ANC’s December conference. The Sunday Independent report led to Mthembu pledging his allegiance to Ramaphosa, but his actions of late have been somewhat contradictory.

Last year, Mthembu called on the entire ANC national executive committee to resign as the party continued to suffer from factionalism and lost key cities in the 2016 municipal government elections. He claimed he was acting in the best interests of the party, and not taking sides in factional debates.

Mthembu clearly has issues with President Jacob Zuma’s leadership, but when the recent no confidence motion threatening to remove the president came up in Parliament Mthembu took the party line and strenuously argued that ANC MPs should vote to keep Zuma.

Even before the vote, Mthembu called for disciplinary action to be taken against outspoken ANC MP Makhosi Khoza, who had repeatedly spoken out against Zuma’s leadership. After the no confidence vote, Mthembu’s office said, “This motion marks the eighth attempt by the DA to remove the ANC government through a soft coup in Parliament. It has been the publicly stated intention of the opposition to manipulate the Legislature, usurp the Constitution, so as to collapse Government, deter service delivery and sow seeds of chaos in society to ultimately grab power.”

Mthembu led the ANC team trying to get the party’s MPs to vote for Zuma to stay and has led the calls for disciplinary action against MPs suspected of voting against the president. He is against Zuma, but is clearly in the ANC camp that believes a party president must be removed by the party and not by an opposition party. DM

Photo: Jackson Mthembu before the start of the party’s elective conference in Mangaung, December 2012. Photo: Greg Nicolson/NewsFire

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