THE BLOG

Jackson Mthembu Is The Leader We Need

All eyes have been on Ramaphosa for leadership following the cabinet purge but really they should be on Mthembu.

03/04/2017 07:29 SAST
John Wessel / AFP / Getty Images
African National Congress' (ANC) chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, addresses the media on communication and the battle of ideas on April 2, 2017 in Johannesburg.

The removal of Pravin Gordhan and the axing of some his colleagues in the cabinet may be the final straw for increasingly vocal opponents of President Jacob Zuma.

In the midnight hours of Thursday 30 March, the presidency released a statement after much speculation and confirmation on the Gupta-owned ANN7 that he had decided to make changes to ten ministries. The country surely let out an audible sigh and then began debating what this meant for us going forward.

Once again we find ourselves navigating through another presidential screw up that is completely unnecessary and avoidable. Nothing surprises us anymore with this president as bad move after bad move numbs our political consciousness and normalises the never-ending scandals. We end up at a point where even stirring up outrage takes too much emotional effort.

This time, however, we have genuinely shown some sustained outrage as opposition parties seek to get parliament running again for an emergency session to vote on the motion of no-confidence. Prominent African National Congress (ANC) leaders have spoken out in disagreement with the latest cabinet reshuffle including Cyril Ramaphosa, Gwede Mantashe and Jackson Mthembu. The South African Communist Party (SACP) also joined in on criticising the president calling for Zuma to resign.

The outrage being voiced currently is good and the president rightly deserves every criticism hurled his way. If he had any shred of decency, decorum or principles he would of course resign but this is Jacob Zuma none of that can ever be said in the same breath as him without audible laughter. The critical rhetoric is nice and cute from the likes of the SACP and ANC hierarchy but really it's nothing more than what it is, noise. We can all criticise and bemoan the actions of a rogue leader who is so clearly taking his cues from outside influences but what are those in a position to do something going to do about it?

The SACP threatened to have its ministers resign en masse should Gordhan be fired but of course they've changed their tune now. The responsibility to serve the people of South Africa has been used as justification for staying on. There's no honour or principles in staying on in an administration that has shown disdain for those who perform best. Cyril Ramaphosa has said that he too would not be resigning once again showing his reluctance to be a leader for the resistance. Jackson Mthembu has become increasingly critical of the president over recent times and praised both Gordhan and his former deputy Mcebisi Jonas as incorruptible.

All eyes have been on Ramaphosa for leadership following the cabinet purge but really they should be on Mthembu. When parliament does reconvene and the motion of no confidence is tabled ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu will be in a position to really gain some major political capital. If his criticism of Zuma is indeed genuine and he really cares about serving the citizens that sent him to parliament in the first place, he'll whip those votes in favour of the no-confidence vote. That sort of move will make him a household name, boost his popularity and earn him some deserved admiration.

It could be suggested that he begin binge watching House of Cards immediately and take some notes on vote whipping strategy. There is, after all, no one better at removing a president than Frank Underwood.