‘Too little‚ too late‚’ DA tells newly anti-Zuma Mthembu

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu
Image: Russell Roberts

The chief whip of the DA in Parliament‚ John Steenhuisen‚ says it is too late for his governing-party counterpart‚ Jackson Mthembu‚ to realise that President Jacob Zuma is not good for South Africa.

“We are delighted that Mr Mthembu has belatedly come round to our thinking‚ that President Zuma can no longer lead South Africa‚” Steenhuisen told TimesLIVE. “It’s rather a pity that it has taken him and others so long to come around to this conclusion‚ because we could have [already] achieved this‚ if those who have now found their voices had supported the previous opportunities we gave them to rid [South Africa] of Mr Zuma.

“The truth is that it does not matter who wins the elective congress in December – the ANC is not capable of self correction. The future for South Africa and the hope of our people lies in a post-ANC South Africa‚” he added.

He was reacting to ANC chief whip Mthembu’s call for Zuma to step down after the party’s elective conference in December.

Reuters reported that Mthembu said that whoever the party chooses next month‚ the incoming leadership should tell Zuma to go‚ to allow the ANC to clean up its act.

“You can't keep him there‚” he said.

Mthembu said the ANC could learn from what was happening in Zimbabwe‚ where the ruling Zanu-PF party is pushing for President Robert Mugabe to leave his post.

"In Zimbabwe they call these bloodless corrections... We need to make the corrections immediately after the conference. How do you effect those corrections in government‚ when the same person who might have contributed to a better degree still sits?" Mthembu asked.

Earlier‚ political analyst Dumisani Hlophe said Mthembu’s statements represent a faction that is pushing for Cyril Ramaphosa do be the next leader of the ANC.

He added that the context within which Mthembu made this call was totally different to what had happened when he protected Zuma against a motion of no confidence in Parliament.

“[That motion] was initiated by the opposition. That matters. If [the ANC] had gone ahead and removed President Zuma based on the initiative of the opposition‚ it would have meant that the ANC in its totality has abdicated its responsibility to provide leadership.

“It would have meant that its internal processes of holding its own leadership accountable had failed to the extent that it needed to rely on the opposition… It would not have been strategic. So [Mthembu] had to defend the position of the ANC. That was a positional matter‚ whether he likes [Zuma] or not.

“This time around‚ it is a leadership contestation‚ which is entirely within the ANC. It has been initiated within the ANC through ANC processes‚ governed by the ANC constitution‚ rules and regulations‚ and to be decided wholly by the ANC‚” said Hlophe.

Hlophe said Mthembu’s views were within the context of leadership contestation within the ruling party.

“He does not speak as the chief whip – but we can’t ignore the fact that he is a chief whip. It gives his comment more weight‚ and yet he is not speaking as a chief whip of the ANC. He is part of a faction. What he is saying is reflective of a faction that is pushing for Ramaphosa and all those who are in that slate‚” Hlophe concluded.