Tag Archives: Jackson Mthembu

South Africa – ANC chief whip Methembu battles factions and Zuma critics

City Press/News24

Jackson battles rogue MPs

2017-06-18 06:01

CHALLENGED ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu

CHALLENGED ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu

 

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu had his hands full this week dealing with absent ANC MPs in the National Assembly as well as defiant MPs who challenged his authority to hold them accountable.

The fractures are indicative of deepening divisions in the ANC parliamentary caucus amid broader factions becoming more apparent in the party in the run-up to the national elective conference in December.

The tensions played out in this week’s caucus meeting where a group of MPs who had requested that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane include National Treasury, the SA Reserve Bank and the Financial Intelligence Centre in her state capture investigation defended their decision to approach the Public Protector without informing their bosses.

According to three sources who attended Thursday’s heated caucus meeting, Mthembu spoke out against the MPs who made the request, saying this was a sign of ill-discipline. He allegedly asked them to explain their actions to the caucus.

The MPs, led by Loyiso Mpumlwana, stood their ground and said they had not violated ANC policy by going to the Public Protector.

They accused Mthembu of being guilty of the same for allegedly expressing his views as if they were the views of the caucus he leads.

According to two of the sources, Mpumlwana charged:

“Wena [You] Jackson, when you go out and say ‘it’s the tradition of the ANC for the deputy president to become the president’, who are you representing … which caucus took that position?”

Mthembu’s backers allegedly claimed that by presenting a view that was not sanctioned by the caucus, the other group was intentionally undermining the chief whip and trying to portray him as someone who was not able to manage the caucus.

They view the request for the Public Protector to investigate Treasury as a deflection in an attempt to minimise the impact of the Guptas’ alleged role in state capture.

According to sources, Mpumlwana explained that they were forced to approach the Public Protector following complaints from their constituencies.

He allegedly argued that MPs represent constituencies and therefore could not ignore issues that were raised at that level.

Mpumlwana expressed the same sentiments to City Press two weeks ago when he said: “MPs have a duty to respond to the issues of their constituencies. We can’t take everything to the caucus.”

Then, Mpumlwana had claimed that more than 90 MPs were signatories to the letter requesting the Public Protector to expand her state capture investigation and added that the list was growing every day.

Tensions

Mthembu had, in a statement issued on June 1, distanced the ANC caucus from the group’s actions, saying the MPs acted in their individual capacities and not as representatives of the ANC parliamentary caucus and that whatever they submitted to the Public Protector was their own view.

He later indicated to City Press that the MPs would have to explain themselves to the party caucus and that the caucus would take a decision on the way forward.

But all three sources claimed that there was a stalemate and no way forward had been proposed or agreed to.

Mthembu refused to comment on the latest developments around the matter. He said caucus issues were not to be spoken of in the public domain.

“I will not deny nor confirm the issues that we discuss in caucus,” he said.

Mpumlwana was not available for comment. Several phone calls and an SMS went unanswered on Saturday.

At the same caucus meeting, Mthembu is said to have announced plans to discipline MPs whose absence from the National Assembly had led to its failure to pass certain laws.

In recent weeks, and following walkouts by opposition parties, Parliament has had to postpone the passing of proposed laws due to the lack of a quorum.

The Border Management Authority Bill, for instance, was only passed during a third attempt earlier this month as on two prior occasions there were not enough MPs in the House to meet the required 50% plus one quorum to pass a law.

Hours after Thursday’s meeting, Mthembu asked the National Assembly to postpone the approval of the Protected Disclosures Amendment Bill because there were not enough MPs to pass the law.

He told City Press this was because a number of ministers had gone to Knysna with President Jacob Zuma following the devastating fires there last week.

Mthembu lashed out at opposition parties for their staged walkouts and said these were absurd and unpatriotic.

“They must tell us if Parliament’s majority is now centred around the 249 ANC MPs. They must say so, so that we change everything to centre around the ANC.

“If you are saying you won’t assist the ANC in passing its laws, say so and then tell us what example are we setting for provinces and hung municipalities where they are in charge,” he said.

A long-serving ANC MP compared the tensions in the party’s caucus to those of 2006 when then chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe claimed the caucus was fully behind Thabo Mbeki when the former president came under attack from the SA Communist Party and trade union federation Cosatu for his alleged “imperial” presidency.

Goniwe was attacked by MPs who agreed with the ANC’s tripartite alliance partners.

The MP, who sympathises with Mthembu, said even if the other grouping was pursuing a matter raised by their constituencies, they should have gone through the chief whip.

“What they did affects everybody in caucus.”

Mthembu is regarded as a sympathiser of ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and has faced hostility from Zuma’s supporters.

South Africa – ANC unity is a farce

News24

2017-04-09 06:00

Picture: File

Picture: File

The baffling display of solidarity by President Jacob Zuma and his top six ANC leaders this week was a smoke screen to calm a volatile political environment created by the Cabinet reshuffle.

But away from the public gaze, the battles continue unabated – a factor raised by the Fitch Ratings agency as it downgraded South Africa to “junk” status on Friday, citing “tensions within the ANC”.

On Tuesday, Zuma appeared to have reined in his opponents, but those outside of the smaller ANC national working committee (NWC) want another shot at taking him on.

They are lobbying for a special sitting of the bigger national executive committee (NEC) – the only elected ANC structure that can remove a sitting president.

The plan is to resuscitate last October’s NEC motion of no confidence debate against Zuma.

Although Zuma has most NEC members on his side, the motion is his detractors’ strategy to keep the pressure on.

So divided is the ANC that various caucuses and gatherings were taking place this week as pro- and anti-Zuma groupings tried to get the upper hand.

Those supporting Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa met on Thursday night in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, during a memorial lecture for struggle hero Solomon Mahlangu. A heated branch meeting in Ward 17 of the Ehlanzeni region was addressed by Fish Mahlalela, the former Mpumalanga provincial chairperson.

A branch member told City Press that when Mahlalela asked members who was going to benefit if Zuma went, they responded: “It is the citizens who will benefit.”

Only a few agreed that opposition parties would benefit.

At another meeting held yesterday in Lydenburg in Mpumalanga, a group of very senior anti-Zuma ANC MPs and NEC members plotted another way forward.

An insider said they discussed the possibility of getting a stronger candidate to take Zuma on, citing disappointment with Ramaphosa, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize’s about-turn on former finance minister Pravin Gordhan’s axing.

The trio last week distanced themselves from Zuma’s decision to remove Gordhan on the basis of a questionable intelligence report.

A lobby for them to publicly correct the perception that Zuma neutralised them has failed – confirming, the meeting resolved, that they were not up to the task.

An alternative which was discussed, was to look at mobilising other ANC NEC members and MPs behind the other presidential hopefuls, including Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and former ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa.

Pressure

This week, a planned memorial service in Limpopo for the late public service minister Collins Chabane also became a battle site, with pro- and anti-Zuma groupings vying to have the guest speaker be one of their own.

Yesterday, Zuma addressed Chabane’s tombstone unveiling ceremony in Xikundu in Malamulele.

The ANC stalwarts and veterans are also set to pile pressure on the party to remove Zuma. Having failed to convince it to agree to a national consultative conference, the elders are considering arranging a similar conference to the 1955 Congress of the People, to be attended by ordinary South Africans and alliance partners.

The elders also want the ANC leadership conference in December postponed to clean up the “contaminated” party membership system.

“You can put that on the table, but the current people at Luthuli House are going to defy that,” a stalwart told City Press.

“They are doing things by force most of the time and there is nothing we can do because we are not a constitutional structure.”

Senior anti-Zuma ANC members are also furious about a factional caucus meeting that they claim was held at the Union Buildings a day before this week’s NWC meeting, calling it an abuse of state resources.

City Press learnt that the leaked notes from the NWC meeting, sent “accidentally” via the ANC’s media list, were drawn up at the factional caucus meeting.

However, presidency spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said: “No caucus was held at the Union Buildings. All meetings are held at Luthuli House.”

At the NWC, Zuma apologised for his role in the mismanagement of the Cabinet reshuffle. His backers say he was enraged by media leaks from the ANC’s top six.

“He called a meeting with the top six on Thursday [March 30] at about 6.30pm. Within 15 minutes, his request was made known to the media. This is despite the fact that personal texts were sent to the officials. This was also the case with Monday’s meeting,” said a source close to Zuma.

“He cannot be expected to work with such people, who betray his trust.”

Although other ministers were axed, the focus had been on Gordhan, Zuma’s allies lamented.

“Since December, Pravin has been busy on an offensive, mobilising people … It is not something that started this week,” said a pro-Zuma NWC member about Gordhan’s appearances at memorial services for Ahmed Kathrada.

But Gordhan confidantes say these allegations were “rubbish” and “the main gripe between the two [Gordhan and Zuma] was around South Africa’s nuclear energy aspirations and the mismanagement of SAA”.

Gordhan said the allegations were “mischievous disinformation” because he had “always respected the office of the president”. He said there were various efforts afoot to discredit him or mislead the public.

“Many South Africans are very aware of a growing intolerance for a diversity or difference of views. More importantly, South Africans want good governance, an effective combating of corruption and sound fiscal management,” he said via SMS.

“This is about the ANC; Zuma is the entry point”

Sdumo Dlamini, president of labour federation Cosatu, told City Press this week there was a “third force element” at play in the country’s regime change agenda, which had been infiltrated by opposition parties and elements in the tripartite alliance.

He insisted public anger was not against Zuma, but the ANC government. “This is about the ANC; Zuma is the entry point. The main thing is to find anything that can cause anxiety and revolt, leading to calls for the ANC to be removed.

“Even if you remove Zuma today, the ANC will remain and it will still be under attack, and the same applies to the next president,” Dlamini said.

This week, Cosatu called on Zuma to resign. Last year, it threw its weight behind Ramaphosa’s presidential ambitions.

Mantashe said removing Zuma would be impossible because an ANC conference resolution stipulated that the party’s president would be the head of state. An ANC insider in Gauteng said this meant Zuma would remain president until the party’s leadership conference in December.

Unless Zuma seeks a third term as ANC president, the party need not keep him as president of the country until 2019.

The insider said: “His resignation is the only option. The resolution used to say that the ANC president is the ‘preferable’ president of the country. In Mangaung that word was taken out. We are going to feel it now.”

Meanwhile, the United Democratic Movement (UDM) plans to go to the Western Cape High Court and the Constitutional Court tomorrow, seeking an order to allow a secret ballot at next Tuesday’s motion of no confidence vote in Parliament.

It is asking for this ballot on the grounds that threats have been made by some ANC leaders against MPs who may not toe the party line.

National Assembly Speaker and ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete rejected the UDM’s demand, saying it had “no basis in law”. But the UDM will argue that Rule 103 of the National Assembly opens the door for a secret ballot, said UDM leader Bantu Holomisa and other MPs this week.

An ANC MP told City Press this week that no member of the party’s caucus would vote against the party line openly, “but give us a secret ballot, and Zuma will not be the president on the 19th”.

The MP said more than half of the ANC caucus wanted Zuma out, but were not prepared to publicly vote against him for fear of victimisation.

Alex Mashilo, spokesperson for the SA Communist Party, said its members who were ANC MPs were required to abide by ANC decisions, unless the ANC itself brought the motion.

Opposition parties – including the UDM, the Inkatha Freedom Party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, the DA, the African People’s Convention, the Congress of the People and the African Christian Democratic Party – will look to upset Zuma’s 75th birthday celebrations on Wednesday by deflecting attention to a national day of action against him.

 

‘I am no coward’ – Jackson Mthembu

I am no coward, said Jackson Mthembu, chief whip of the ANC, in Parliament on Friday, in response to criticism of the ANC caucus’ decision to vote against the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

The motion will be debated on April 18.

Mthembu, who was among the first ANC leaders to criticise the dismissal of Pravin Gordhan as finance minister, has now ostensibly changed his tune ­- even though he denies doing so.

Defending his position against the motion on Twitter, Mthembu referred to the “revolutionary discipline” of ANC MPs, to which somebody responded: “There’s nothing revolutionary about protecting a thief.”

South Africa – death threats against ANC dissenters

Mail and Guardian

Endangered: Lindiwe Sisulu (pictured with Cyril Ramaphosa) is said to have received threats on her life. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)
Endangered: Lindiwe Sisulu (pictured with Cyril Ramaphosa) is said to have received threats on her life. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

With eight months left before the ANC’s elective conference, serious cracks have emerged in the governing party – with those who are seen to be against President Jacob Zuma, including a Cabinet minister, who escaped assassination attempts and others who received death threats.

Despite the party presenting a show of unity after its national working committee (NWC) meeting this week, the Mail & Guardian can reveal that:

  • National executive committee (NEC) member and Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, a potential candidate to succeed Zuma, has allegedly escaped two assassination attempts;
  • ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe and the party’s chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, were sent threatening messages and are being labelled CIA spies who are out to tarnish Zuma’s name; and
  • Mthembu has been accused of conniving with opposition parties to plot a “coup” against Zuma on April 18, when the National Assembly is due to discuss a motion of no confidence against the president. A group within the party is pushing for Mthembu to be removed as ANC chief whip.

Sisulu has not criticised Zuma in public but ANC insiders say she is one of the few party leaders who is not afraid to take the president to task during internal meetings.

During the NWC meeting this week, she confronted the president about his decision to reshuffle the Cabinet, saying he could have waited a bit longer to allow ANC leaders and members to mourn the passing of struggle veteran and Rivonia triallist Ahmed Kathrada.

Those close to Sisulu say she is seen as a serious threat by supporters of former African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

South Africa – 3 cabinet ministers want Zuma to go

News24

3 ministers ask Zuma to step down2016-11-28 07:17

President Jacob Zuma (Deaan Vivier, Netwerk24)

President Jacob Zuma (Deaan Vivier, Netwerk24)

Johannesburg – At least three members of President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet are said to have led impassioned calls for him to step down or that the ANC national executive committee (NEC) vote to remove him.

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi asked Zuma to resign. They were strongly supported by ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu.

The president’s alleged improper relationship with the Gupta family, the decline in ANC support during local government elections and the Nkandla scandal were used as bases for him to step down.

The ANC NEC meeting, scheduled to end on Sunday, was extended to Monday as a “rough”, “fierce” and “robust” debate over his fate had not been concluded. Zuma’s supporters in the NEC are expected to lead a vocal fightback on Monday.

News24 has learned from inside sources that more than 30 people spoke for and against the “surprise” motion tabled by Hanekom for Zuma to step down on Saturday.

City Press reported on Sunday that those set on removing Zuma were lobbying for a secret ballot to determine the president’s fate.

A Zuma supporter in the NEC told News24 the debate showcased the deepening divisions within cabinet and raised questions about how Zuma could continue working with cabinet members who had no confidence in him, should he survive.

News24 was told at least three Zuma cabinet ministers pushed for his removal: Hanekom, Nxesi and Motsoaledi. But Zuma was defended by three other ministers: International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane; State Security Minister David Mahlobo, and Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana. Zokwana is said to have argued that the party had emerged wounded and split after former president Thabo Mbeki was recalled and warned that they should not do it again.

The source said Zokwana’s defence of Zuma was a surprise as he was chairperson of the South African Communist Party – which has made a dramatic U-turn in its support of Zuma. Nxesi and Thenjiwe Mtintso, who also called for Zuma to step down, are also senior SACP members. Mtintso is a former deputy secretary-general of the ANC.

News24 understands that Zuma’s defenders asked his critics in cabinet to themselves resign.

“Why don’t they resign? How do you work with him (Zuma) when you don’t have confidence in him?” asked an NEC member.

Zuma supporters ‘ambushed’

Zuma’s supporters admitted that the Hanekom motion caught them by surprise and they had to fight back on Sunday.

“It was an ambush, all of us were relaxed going to the NEC, expecting to prepare for January 8 and deal with other organisational matters, and they followed each other arguing for the president to step down. It felt like they had caucused and planned it somewhere else and they thought they had the numbers to win,” the NEC member said.

The pro-Zuma faction had to fight back after Saturday’s “ambush”, which they described as “rough”. The NEC was extended by a day and Zuma’s defenders were expected to speak against Hanekom’s motion on Monday.

The NEC, which was previously seen to be dominated by Zuma supporters, has until now taken no action against Zuma.

It accepted his apology following the Constitutional Court ruling in March that he had failed to uphold the Constitution by not implementing former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s remedial action to pay back some of the money spent on upgrades to his Nkandla home.

The structure also decided to take collective responsibility following a decline in electoral support during local government elections that saw the party lose the Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane metros.

Zuma’s defenders argued that the calls for Zuma to go could not resurface now, given the NEC’s previous decisions and that Madonsela’s state capture report was not conclusive and under review. Another NEC member argued that the NEC has never voted, but always decided by consensus and therefore the motion to vote should fail.

Read more on:    nec  |  anc  |  jacob zuma  |  politics

South Africa – is Pravin Gordhan off the Hawks’ hook

City Press

2016-10-30 06:00

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

‘Informal discussions” are under way between National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams, his close allies in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) as well as lawyers of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his two co-accused to drop the charges against them.

City Press has learnt that yesterday, a draft letter was compiled by Abrahams’ office, communicating his intention to drop the charges.

The letter will be sent to lawyers for Gordhan and his former SA Revenue Service (Sars) deputies Oupa Magashula and Ivan Pillay, before they appear in court on Wednesday.

A senior NPA official close to Abrahams, and a source close to Gordhan and his co-accused, both confirmed to City Press that talks were being held to drop the fraud charges against Gordhan and the others.

In the letter, Abrahams allegedly writes that he has considered the representations made by Magashula and Pillay, and has decided to decline to prosecute them and Gordhan.

Gordhan, who was charged with fraud after signing off his approval of Pillay’s early retirement in 2009, refused to make representations to Abrahams.

At the time, his lawyer Tebogo Malatji said it was because “he does not have any confidence in [Abrahams’] ability or willingness to afford him a fair hearing”.

A source close to the minister told City Press yesterday that he heard on Wednesday that deliberations were going on and expected an announcement on Thursday.

However, he added: “We will believe it when we see it.”

Thousands of Gordhan supporters are expected to march to the Pretoria Regional Court, where the case is set to be heard, on Wednesday as part of Save SA, a civil society campaign calling for President Jacob Zuma’s resignation and backing the beleaguered minister.

The senior NPA source, who has seen the draft letters, told City Press that Abrahams first wanted to inform Gordhan, Magashula and Pillay’s lawyers of his decision before he could make a public announcement.

However, another reason for Abrahams’ impending decision to drop the charges – which is not included in the letters – was the alleged kidnapping and assault of Sars legal services official Vlok Symington, who prosecutors had hoped would testify in the case.

City Press understands that Symington has been removed from the witness list, which prosecutors believe will hurt their case.

Symington provided a legal opinion on Pillay’s early retirement in March 2009.

“The developments that took place at Sars played a role in his [Abrahams’] decision,” said the senior NPA official yesterday, referring to the events of October 18, when a copy of an email Symington received in error – which revealed Sars’ own lawyer disagreed with the case against Gordhan – was allegedly forced out of his hands in a scuffle (see page 2).

Malatji declined to comment yesterday.

NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku yesterday denied that a decision to decline to prosecute Gordhan and the others had been reached.

“We categorically deny your assertions. The NDPP is currently considering the matter and has not made a decision,” he said, adding: “The NDPP will make an announcement very soon.”

ALL SYSTEMS GO FOR SAVE SA MARCH

However, regardless of whether charges are dropped against Gordhan, Magashula and Pillay, a mass march against state capture by civil society groups and political parties will still go ahead as a show of force in defence of state institutions.

Lawson Naidoo, a member of the steering committee of the Save SA campaign, told City Press:

“A withdrawal [of charges] will be a victory and vindication of what we have been saying.

“This is not about the charges against the minister, but about state capture and the misuse of institutions such as the NPA, Hawks, Sars and so on.

“There is an acknowledgement that this is something that we need to fight collaboratively.”

Employer organisations on Friday called on their business affiliates to join the march. The National Employers’ Association of SA invited employees of its business partners to join to beef up support.

Gerhard Papenfus, the association’s head, said: “We have not received any request from the employees. If they want to go, they can go and join the march … We as officials support the march.”

Commenting on ANC members’ concerns that the demonstrations were aimed at “regime change”, Naidoo said he saw nothing wrong with that.

“It is a highly contested phrase, but if the governing party is not governing in terms of the social contract of the Constitution, then the regime must be changed.

[It is] regime change in terms of the Constitution – not by force, but using the very social contract we have agreed upon.”

POLICE OUT IN FORCE FOR MARCH

Acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane told City Press that police were ready for the marchers and had activated the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (Natjoints) – a joint command structure consisting of the justice, crime prevention and security clusters – to assist with an “intelligence-led” plan.

He said that, in addition to the departments of state security, justice and defence, police crime intelligence and the NPA were involved in the plan.

“There will be enough deployments of police officers to deal with any situation,” he said.

The Natjoints structure is commonly used in extraordinary events, where a large threat is anticipated by intelligence operatives from police and state security.

The structure is currently busy with student protests, and was previously in use in the run-up to the municipal elections.

FULL BENCH TO HEAR ZUMA’S STATE CAPTURE INTERDICT CASE

On Wednesday, when Gordhan is scheduled to appear in the regional court, Zuma’s lawyers will be arguing his application to interdict former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s state capture report in the Pretoria High Court.

The case had been set down for Tuesday only, but was extended for a full two days to be heard by a full Bench of three North Gauteng High Court judges, according to a letter sent to Zuma’s office on Friday by the office of North Gauteng deputy judge president Aubrey Ledwaba.

Ordinarily, a full Bench is reserved for complex and important legal matters.

The highly anticipated state capture report was set to be released on Madonsela’s last day in office, but Zuma applied for an interdict.

This week, former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor, who gave evidence to Madonsela, applied to intervene in the matter.

In response, the president’s lawyers said they needed time to study her affidavit and respond, in effect calling for yet another postponement.

Opposition parties involved in the matter all opposed the postponement.

In a strongly worded letter on Friday, Ledwaba said the president’s lawyers had not yet filed their heads of argument and that the court files had not been properly indexed.

Zuma’s lawyers complied with the court’s instructions yesterday.

ZUMA’S SUPPORTERS SHARPENING SWORDS

Meanwhile, Zuma’s ANC allies are gearing up for a big fight at what is expected to be an explosive ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting in November.

They are ready to use their majority status to quash any attempts at forcing the leadership – including Zuma – to step down.

Zuma’s staunch ally, ANC NEC member and Deputy Defence Minister Kebby Maphatsoe, was adamant that those who supported a mass resignation of NEC members – mooted by ANC chief whip in Parliament Jackson Mthembu last week – had “already lost the day”.

“Jackson has lost the day by going out publicly,” he said on Friday.

Maphatsoe and ANC Youth League president Collen Maine called for Mthembu to be stripped of his position over his “ill-discipline”, further fuelling the open warfare within the party which has escalated since the decision to prosecute Gordhan was announced.

This week, the SA Communist Party (SACP) called for Parliament to institute a swift inquiry into Abrahams’ fitness to hold office, saying his “amateurish” behaviour showed state institutions were being used to target leaders and isolate them for standing in the way of private interests.

The SACP also called for the NPA Act to be reviewed regarding the appointment of the NDPP, wanting the public and Parliament to have a greater say in that decision.

Maphatsoe said that, while no one could stop ANC members from supporting Gordhan in court, “the danger is that the Economic Freedom Fighters and the DA are doing cheap political campaigning by using our own comrade”.

Maphatsoe said Wednesday’s planned march had turned into anti-Zuma gatherings, but just like the last #ZumaMustFall march – organised after the Constitutional Court found that the president had acted in a manner “inconsistent” with the Constitution in the Nkandla matter – this one would also fail.

“The ANC won elections, so they [marchers] must wait for 2019. It is the ANC branches which can say they do not want Zuma.

“No other person or even these stalwarts making noise can remove him, because they are not a structure,” he said.

This week, 101 ANC stalwarts came out in support of Gordhan and expressed concern about the state of the country. They joined ANC voices such as that of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The stalwarts – including former finance minister Trevor Manuel, Pallo Jordan and Albertina Luthuli – signed an open letter to Zuma and the ANC executive, calling for introspection and for the ANC to return to its Freedom Charter roots.

They stated in the letter:

“We strongly believe the charges are without foundation and clearly show a misuse of state agencies‚ when the NPA and other agencies should be focusing on cases of corruption and the misuse of public funds.”

South Africa – shades of Polokwane in Mthembu leadership resignation call

BD Live

Critical:  ANC parliamentary chief whip Jackson Mthembu and secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.  Picture: ARNOLD PRONTO
Critical: ANC parliamentary chief whip Jackson Mthembu and secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. Picture: ARNOLD PRONTO

Is ANC parliamentary chief whip Jackson Mthembu’s call for the entire ANC leadership to resign an awakening of the beast that has long slumbered through the numerous crises bedevilling the ruling party?

It is an open secret there is a leadership vacuum within the ANC. The party and its leader have lurched from one crisis to the next without a whimper of protest from those leading it.

First there was Nkandla, followed by Nenegate, “state capture” and an attack on the Treasury. Instead of condemning these crises, those close to the president sought to protect him at all costs, as if their jobs and political survival were tied to his. Those that protested were ruthlessly dealt with. Many were fired or redeployed to political oblivion. Others were discredited and had flimsy allegations thrown at them in courts.

Mthembu’s outbursts have exposed that all is not well in the party’s leadership echelons and could encourage those who had been itching to speak to do so.

This may yet be President Jacob Zuma’s rubicon.

But Zuma’s faction continues to dominate the party’s NEC, its national working committee and the Cabinet.

It must have taken a lot of bravado for Mthembu to come out and open the sluice gates. Many see this as a resurgence of the fight to recapture the movement as happened in the pre-Polokwane period. It was lone brave voices at the time that culminated in a groundswell against former president Thabo Mbeki at the ANC’s 2005 national general council.

This may yet be President Jacob Zuma’s rubicon

Political staff

Mthembu, an NEC member, said he had called on the entire leadership structure, which included Zuma, to resign after the poor election result. He said everyone should fall on their swords for failing party members. He now says he will deal with the matter internally after dropping his bombshell at the weekend. But insiders say Mthembu is leading the charge against the Zuma faction — he is testing the waters ahead of what is hoped will be a bigger ground-swell against the status quo.

With a president allegedly reporting to Saxonwold and Dubai, and a Cabinet whose appointment is under investigation, any sign of “real leadership” would be “absorbed like a sponge”. It is part of a bigger strategy in which others are set to follow.

A closer look at the ANC NEC shows that barring a handful of unknowns, the numbers for and against the president and his faction are evenly matched. The so-called Premier League — a grouping of premiers from the Free State, North West and Mpumalanga — is now a known entity, having peaked too early. Barring a few tactical issues, its game plan is well-known.

Zuma, it seems, has relied so much on it to ride one scandal after the other.

Also batting in his corner is the party’s youth league, the fractious war veterans association and its women’s league. But these organisations are a pale shadow of their former selves. Some of these organisations’ leaders have credibility issues.

No wonder Mthembu and those that support him have gathered enough strength to go for the jugular.

The Zuma faction has dismissed Mthembu’s comments and say he will be dealt with at the meeting of the party’s leadership next month.

It remains to be seen if Mthembu will go the way of those before him, being sidelined into oblivion, or if those who support him will stand up and be counted. With less than a year to go before 2017, the anti-Zuma forces are hedging their bets.

Some say he stands a better chance of taking on the Zuma faction because he was one of them. Before his “Damascus road moment”, Mthembu was a staunch Zuma supporter. His appointment as parliamentary chief whip was a reward for loyalty, they argue. Something must have gone awfully wrong in the camp to have forced him to take such a brave, and possibly career-limiting, stance.

South Africa – ANC Chief Whip Mthembu says NEC should resign for failing

City Press

2016-10-23 06:00

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu.

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu.

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu has made a shocking proposal: the party’s top leaders should step down for having failed members as it moves from one crisis to the next.

Currently the ANC is divided over the pending prosecution of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan whose fraud case is set down on November 2nd.

Two highly placed sources said the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had assured Berning Ntlemeza, head of priority crimes unit the Hawks, that it would not back down on the decision to charge Gordhan.

Mthembu said he raised the call for the national executive committee (NEC) to resign in subsequent meetings of the party following its dismal performance in the August 3rd local elections.

He said that the current leadership “reduced the governing party to something that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth”.

Going public for the first time about his call for the leadership to step down, Mthembu told City Press that he was deeply hurt to witness an ANC government using instruments of state to pursue its own minister.

He said his target was not President Jacob Zuma and he was “not interested in any position but to save the ANC”.

He said he would not be availing himself for a position in the ANC come December 2017, when the party’s national elective conference takes place.

He would rather go back to his branch and make a contribution through political education, he added.

Two weeks ago, National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams announced that Gordhan would be charged with fraud related to signing off on his former Sars deputy Ivan Pillay’s early retirement.

Mthembu and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, were among senior party leaders and stalwarts who offered Gordhan moral and political support ahead of his appearance in court on November 2.

Their support has been interpreted as a tacit vote of no confidence against President Zuma by some in the ANC and government – blaming Zuma for trying to taint Gordhan’s “good name” through trumped-up charges.

Other high-ranking ANC officials who have declared their support for Gordhan include Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Zweli Mkhize, Aaron Motsoaledi, Enoch Godongwana and Joe Phaahla.

But ANC structures such as the youth and women’s leagues, and the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association, have all said Gordhan must answer to the charges, like any other citizen.

Support for the beleaguered finance minister continued to grow this week as business leaders from the country’s 80 largest companies pledged their support for him, saying the charges were “without factual or legal foundation and not in the public interest”.

“We stand against the damage this has caused to our economy and to the people of South Africa, especially the poor,” read the pledge. (See the full text on page 16.)

The signatories represent mining companies, major banks, clothing retailers, grocery chain stores, private hospital networks and audit firms including the JSE, Anglo American SA, Barclays Africa, Goldman Sachs, KPMG Southern Africa, Naspers, as well as Business Leadership SA and the Black Business Council.

It was widely speculated that, following the outcome of the August elections, some senior ANC members wanted to resign en masse over the ANC’s poor showing.

Excessive state expenditure on Zuma’s private home in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal was cited as one of the main reasons for the ANC’s nosedive result of 54%.

The NPA’s decision to charge Gordhan, who was preparing to deliver the medium-term budget policy statement – known as the mini budget – this Wednesday, was the final straw for ANC members such as Mthembu.

It followed a litany of scandals that happened under the watch of the ANC’s NEC, including the removal of former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene.

“Why should we not step down, given that we have messed up? All these things happened under our watch. The ANC is losing support at 54%. Unless the party starts doing things differently, we will not be in power in 2019,” Mthembu charged.

“He [Gordhan] is pursued in a manner that is anti-democracy and anti-ANC, and some of us will stand against it. How can instruments of state be used to pursue our own minister? It goes beyond political bankruptcy. What’s more worrying is how our people have lost confidence in us. “When you see these things being done by a democratic state, your heart jumps. We are not only equal to the apartheid state, we are worse – because they never treated their ministers like this.”

Mthembu said ANC stalwarts such as Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu would be in his corner – “standing for what is right and supporting Gordhan”.

He shouldered blame for having kept quiet this long, but said he hoped that his speaking out would encourage other NEC comrades.

“Speaking out against what is wrong is the only way to save the ANC, or we will continue to guillotine one another.”

Mthembu said he would use the next NEC gathering to pose these questions: “After messing up, are we fit and proper to lead the ANC? Should we not look at others to lead to get the ANC out of this morass?”

He added that the NEC owed Nene an apology for having all kept quiet and believed Zuma when he said Nene was recommended for a job at the New Development Bank – a multilateral development bank established by the Brics states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) – which never materialised.

“That must be interrogated. Why was Nene removed?”

Mthembu said he hoped Gordhan’s case would be struck off the roll. Since his appointment as chief whip in March, Mthembu has vowed never to make mistakes akin to the manner in which the Nkandla issue was handled.

In related developments this week, Abrahams assured Ntlemeza that his invitation to Gordhan to make representations to the NPA was only procedural and he would still be ploughing ahead with the prosecution.

Abrahams had invited Gordhan to make representations for the charges against him to be reviewed, but the finance minister declined.

In contrast, his two co-accused – former SA Revenue Service commissioner Oupa Magashula and Pillay – complied.

At least two sources privy to the details of the Hawks investigation said Abrahams told Ntlemeza that the process was merely a procedure that had to be followed.

“He assured the general [Ntlemeza] that the process was just procedure which had to be followed after the receipt of the representations,” said an insider.

Gordhan’s lawyer, Tebogo Malatji, and Magashule said they had heard nothing from Abrahams by end of business on Friday.

The civil rights body Freedom Under Law had given Abrahams a deadline of Friday afternoon to withdraw the charges against Gordhan or face going to court.

But on Friday, Abrahams wrote to retired Judge Johann Kriegler, who chairs Freedom Under Law, saying he needed more time as he had “directed further investigations to be conducted to assist me in reaching a decision”. He said the legal representatives of Magashula and Pillay made “verbal representations” on Monday, followed by “written representations” on Tuesday.

“As such, I am reviewing the decision to prosecute Mr Magashula, Mr Pillay and Mr Gordhan,” said Abrahams, adding that he “regarded this matter as urgent and will be in communication with the legal representatives of Mr Magashula and Mr Pillay to advise them of the outcome of their representations once I have received the additional information requested and have considered the same”.

An urgent application to get Abrahams to drop charges against Gordhan was likely, according to Kriegler, following the letter from Abrahams on Friday.

Last week, a senior ANC NEC member sympathetic to Zuma accused Mthembu of using his position as ANC chief whip in Parliament to undermine Zuma and to create confusion. “There is a parallel NEC in Parliament led by Jackson. He has created his own faction there,” he said, adding that the strategy by the anti-Zuma group was to “paralyse the NEC”.

“If you take decisions this side at the NEC and we defeat them, they go to Parliament to create confusion.

He said they had identified a group in the NEC that wanted to resign in numbers at a particular time to create a crisis, and it was likely the trigger would be the removal of Gordhan as finance minister.

“But we are still strong as the NEC.”