Jackson Mthembu, the ANC's chief whip in parliament, has launched a series of broadsides as party luminary and Cabinet minister Lindiwe Sisulu on Twitter on Monday, lashing her after she had a go at Gwede Mantashe, the ANC's secretary-general.
Mantashe earlier said the leadership transition needs to be managed carefully in order to avoid a crisis, that the deputy president must become president and that there are no prescripts that dictate that the next party leader must be a woman.
If Pres Zuma, with experience, refuses to handover to DP, we will be in a crisis. Let us find a woman to be DP, for succession to be managed— Gwede Mantashe (@GwedeMantashe1) October 10, 2017
Sisulu did not take kindly to that, telling the Daily Dispatch that women "saved" the ANC when its leaders were underground.
"The question is: where was he [Mantashe] when we were fighting for this freedom in exile and in jail, which he today is abusing for his personal interest? He must hand over an ANC that is intact. Under him as an SG [secretary-general] we gave birth to Cope [Congress of the People] and EFF [Economic Freedom Fighters] and fractured Cosatu -- something we never imagined," she reportedly said.
Mthembu, who is known to have a fiery temper and has not made any bones about his support for Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, shot back arguing that Sisulu -- whose parents are party luminaries Walter and Albertina -- is wrong in denigrating activists who did not go into exile. But not just in telling her she's wrong...
@LindiweSisuluSA' has showed her political immarturity by asserting that SAs freedom is owed to the exiles . She has lost her marbels !!— Jackson Mthembu (@JacksonMthembu_) October 16, 2017
Sisulu's assertion that only those coming from exile understand the ANC (and theterefore should lead it ) is equally politically flawed .— Jackson Mthembu (@JacksonMthembu_) October 16, 2017
The millions who brought aparheid down were drawnfrom academia , labour , students , teachers , business , religious and civic sectors.— Jackson Mthembu (@JacksonMthembu_) October 16, 2017
Mthembu, after syaing she's "lost her marbles", repeated himself and said: "She has lost it!" Sisulu, who is a member of Parliament, technically is part of his caucus. #Awks.
It is clear from her assertions that Sisulu has no respect for those who fought aparheid without the cushion of exile life . She has lost it— Jackson Mthembu (@JacksonMthembu_) October 16, 2017
He then went in to bat for Mantashe, who was national organiser of the mineworkers' union NUM and led many a strike along with Ramaphosa, who was the union's general secretary.
The SG of the ANC was there in the tranches of the labour and civic sectors in the fight against apartheid . @GwedeMantashe1 was there !!— Jackson Mthembu (@JacksonMthembu_) October 16, 2017
We suggest that @LinxiweSisulu must go and read more about the SA revolution before she makes more stupid blunders @!— Jackson Mthembu (@JacksonMthembu_) October 16, 2017
Mthembu then took to Facebook*:
"It's very unfortunate that comrade Lindiwe Sisulu believes that the freedom we enjoy today was delivered by those who were in exile . She also wrongly asserts that only those from exile and prison have a better understanding of the ANC .
"She has completely forgotten that its the masses of our people , in their millions , who brought all of us this freedom . Yes our exiled comrades did make a contribution , but we owe our liberation to the various sectors of the SA society , the youth , the women , the workers , the religious community , the academia , the students and teachers , the business community and scores of UDF and MDM activist inside the country .
"Comrade Lindiwe has forgotten that it is these masses of our people who took the aparheid state head on without the cover and cushion of exile . Amongst the fearless activist we can count the current SG of our movement , comrade Gwede Mantashe , he was there as a shopsteward , he was there as a workers leader . He was there as part of the UDF and MDM formations , he contributed immensely to the freedom we all enjoy today . We know him because we were with him in the trenches of struggle . He is still there now to save our movement .
"Amongst the fearless activist we can also count the former SG of the ANC who is currently the Deputy President of our glorius movement , comrade Cyril Ramaphosa , he was also there as the leader of the workers , he was there in the UDF and the MDM formations . There is no friendship between comrade Gwede and comrade Cyri , but a long and time tested comradeship that brought aparheid to its knees . He is still there now to save our movement .
"We are convinced that the utterances of disrespect by comrade Sisulu directed at the millions who never went to exile or prison is as a consequence of her poltical opportunism reflective of political immarturity." (*Unedited)