Who is Jackson Mthembu?

Newly appointed ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu. (Gallo Images)

Newly appointed ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu. (Gallo Images)

And now former ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu has been appointed as the party’s chief whip in Parliament, replacing Stone Sizani, who resigned earlier this month.

ANC MP Doris Dlakude had been the acting chief whip since Sizani’s departure. Sizani has been appointed ambassador to Germany.

Witbank-born Mthembu became a part of the ANC’s caucus in Parliament again following the general elections in 2014. 

Mthembu told News24 on Tuesday that he was humbled to be selected over so many others for the post.

“... Now the leadership of the ANC has decided I must be the chief whip of the governing party and ensure that policies of the ANC are followed through in Parliament and that all ANC members perform their functions in Parliament, and there is no truant playing.

“Indeed I am again so honoured that the leadership, of the ANC out of the numbers that we have, again capable cadres of the movement in Parliament… they decided on me,” he said.

While the 57-year-old Mthembu’s political career spans over 30 years, he is mostly known for his tenure as the ANC national spokesperson.

He was a deputy regional secretary of the United Democratic Front in the 1980s, an MEC for transport and briefly a speaker in the Mpumalanga legislature in the 1890s and early 2000s.

He was also the spokesperson for the party in Mpumalanga for years and served as a spokesperson for former president Nelson Mandela.

In 2010, while working as the national party spokesperson, Mthembu was arrested for drunk driving in Cape Town. He admitted guilt in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court,and issued a R12 000 fine.

The incarceration didn’t stop him from doing his job, however.

While in police custody, the former spokesperson gave a media interview about a complaint against the then-ANC Youth League president Julius Malema for singing “Shoot the boers”.

In a 21-minute telephonic interview with the South African Press Association, Mthembu passionately defended Malema, before bursting into song.

In 2011, a despondent Mthembu opened up about his son’s drug abuse.

His firstborn son from a previous marriage had been addicted since he was 11-years-old, Mthembu said at the time.

He urged South Africans to unite in the fight against drugs.

According to SA History Online, Mthembu’s wife Thembi is a nurse, and they have six children together.

In 2014, Mthembu was shot and injured in an apparent armed robbery in Witbank.

Mthembu was attacked while withdrawing money from an ATM in Mandela Street, Emalahleni, on October 19.

He was hospitalised for 10 days.

In 2015, he told News24 that he still had nightmares about the shooting. “The emotions are still there, you even dream about these terrible things,” he said.

So far, not a single ANC chief whip has served a full term.

Mthembu told News24 on Tuesday that he would respect the appointment and do his absolute best.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the party was confident that Mthembu would discharge his responsibilities with distinction.

“The ANC wishes Comrade Jackson Mthembu well in his new role and calls on all Members of Parliament to provide him support in the execution of his duties.” - News24

Note from News24:
Please note correction to this paragraph: He was a deputy regional secretary of the United Democratic Front in the 1980s, an MEC for transport and briefly a speaker in the Mpumalanga legislature till the mid-2000s.

 

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