Zuma camp steams ahead into Parliament

The dominant Jacob Zuma camp in the ANC on Thursday moved to consolidate its power in Parliament by appointing two members of the party’s powerful national working committee (NWC) to lead the ANC MPs.

Chief whip Isaac Mogase, who was only appointed a few months ago following the expulsion of Mbulelo Goniwe, has been replaced by minerals and energy portfolio committee chairperson Nathi Mthethwa. Firebrand caucus chairperson Vytjie Mentor had to make way for Ncumisa Nkondlo.

Mthethwa and Nkondlo have been recently elected on to the party’s NWC and are well-known Zuma supporters.

This move shows the Zuma camp asserting its power in an area that was previously the domain of President Thabo Mbeki. A significant chunk of the parliamentary ANC were supporters of Mbeki and some chairpersons of committees openly campaigned for him during the run-up to the Polokwane conference last December.

The changes were announced yesterday after a meeting between five of the top six officials of the party and the parliamentary caucus.

In an unusual step ANC Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Secretary General Gwede Mantashe, Chairperson Baleka Mbete, Treasurer General Mathews Phosa and Deputy Secretary General Thandi Modise went to brief the caucus in Cape Town on the new developments.

In the lead-up to Polokwane, Mthethwa was a key lobbyist who co-ordinated the successful campaign to get Zuma elected as ANC president.

Mantashe said after the meeting that the changes were necessary to ensure that there would be better coordination between the leadership in Luthuli House and that of Parliament.

‘These changes are meant to reflect an intention to show that there is a link between the national executive committee [NEC] and the party’s leadership in Parliament. This is not a wholesale thing, the changes are made so that we can have a better link between Parliament and the party. We feel it will work better if the chair of the caucus is also a member of the NEC. Issues in Parliament must not take too long to get to the attention of the leadership at Luthuli House,” he told the Mail & Guardian.

Mantashe described the meeting as ‘warm” and said no one voiced surprise at the announcement of the changes in leadership.

He did not want to comment on whether further changes in parliamentary leadership, such as a reshuffle of portfolio chairpersons, are on the cards.

‘If there was anything new, we would have announced it today. I don’t want to make predictions.”

The new chairperson for the portfolio committee for minerals and energy will be Nqaba Ngcobo.

The new members of the powerful political committee, responsible for coordination between government and the party in Parliament, were also announced. They are Mnyamezeli Booi, Ephraim Mogase, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Derek Hanekom, Sicelo Shiceka, Thandi Tobias, Lumka Yengeni (wife of previous chief whip Tony Yengeni), chairperson of the portfolio committee for transport Jeremy Cronin, Minister of Arts and Culture Pallo Jordan and Nosipho Ntwanambi.

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Mandy Rossouw
Guest Author

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