On Wednesday afternoon, after witnessing ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe climbing down in a press conference from his earlier criticism of President Jacob Zuma's Cabinet reshuffle, Mcebisi Jonas immediately resigned his position as an ANC MP.
"He had had enough," said a close associate. Jonas had intended to stay on at Parliament but realised after yesterday's briefing from the ANC's national working committee that the party will not allow its MPs to vote with their conscience on April 18. That is the day the House of Assembly will hear the argument for a motion of no confidence in Zuma, related to the latest political and economic crisis.
Jonas realised he would not have been able to vote in favour of the motion.
The NWC briefing revealed the meeting was a resounding success for Zuma, where senior officials of the ANC top six who differed with the reshuffle publicly were chastised -- Cyril Ramaphosa, Gwede Mantashe and Zweli Mkhize .
The briefing dealt a blow to hopes that the ANC would recall their president.
A former associate at the Treasury said former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Jonas planned to assess their positions as MPs. Jonas has grown increasingly vocal in his criticism of Zuma and recently spoke out about the misuse of the phrase radical economic transformation.
Jonas joined the anti-apartheid struggle at 14 years old and was exiled in Uganda.
His resignation from Parliament was announced on the ANC earlier on Thursday, with effect from March 31.
"He has also served the movement and the South African people in various capacities over the years. On behalf of the ANC in Parliament we thank comrade Jonas for his selfless service to the movement as its public representative," said a statement from the Office of the Chief Whip.
In an address on Wednesday just before he resigned Jonas bemoaned the national obsession with who was in power over strengthening South Africa's institutions.
"In politics, it is all too easy for us to fall into the trap of debating, at a point in time, who is in charge; who was in charge; who will be in charge next. And so, the debate tends to centre on the power of the day and who exercises it," he said, speaking at the AHI Small Business Chamber in Johannesburg on Wednesday, where he raised concerns about the weakening of institutions.
"Dare I suggest that in South Africa, and particularly over the past decade, many of our institutions have been forsaken or deliberately weakened for political expediency, and state transformation has become so politicised that we would be forgiven for thinking that economics is all about political power."Suggest a correction