Majodina is ready to whip, dressed to kill

She’s loud, she’s proud and she’s the ANC’s new chief whip in Parliament.

Pemmy Majodina, the former Eastern Cape public works MEC, was the surprise choice by the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) to replace Jackson Mthembu as the leader of the party’s parliamentary caucus.

Her job is primarily to hold party discipline in Parliament and ensure the ANC MPs attend sittings, participate in committee meetings and vote according to party lines.

Those are tasks she says she’s up to.

“No one knew who was going to be presiding in which position up until Monday. When they presented the names [at the NEC meeting] it was like a bombshell that was dropped on me. I froze a little bit because I understand what goes with the package of being chief whip,” she told the Mail & Guardian.

Majodina returns to the parliamentary precinct after having served as a member of the National Council of Provinces between 1999 and 2004. She also has MEC portfolios of sport and social development under her belt.

Majodina will have to oversee a caucus that has often been accused of having the interests of Luthuli House — and not those of the country — at heart.

She reiterates the call by the ANC for renewal and to seek to restore the trust of voters in the party. The ANC got 57% of the vote in the general elections, its worst result in South Africa’s democratic history.

“We must play our oversight [role] over the executive,” she says. “Parliament on its own does not deliver services, those get delivered through Cabinet. And therefore you need strong chairpersons of committees, you need strong whips who understand the manifesto of the next five years.”

In a Parliament where controversy continues to swirl around appointees with questionable histories — from allegations of ineptitude and corruption to murder — Majodina is not without her own controversial past.

In 2015, the public protector found she had misappropriated public funds for travel and allowances on a trip to New York. She was forced to pay back about R15 000, but she did blame the incident on an oversight.

Majodina will have to square off with returning Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen. He is known for his stinging heckling and sharp knowledge of parliamentary procedure.

Although they are opponents across the aisle in the National Assembly chamber, they will have to work together in the chief whips’ forum. This sets the agenda for the parliamentary programme and the running of the legislature.

Majodina says she wants to change the tone of debate in the National Assembly from one of conflict to one of co-operation.

“I’m not looking forward to the battles, I’m looking forward to engagements … When we tabled our manifestos we said we want to improve the lives of our people for the better. So we expect that maturity of engagement, not toe-to-toe immature fights. But, politics is politics.”

Steenhuisen says he was surprised by Majodina’s appointment: “It was a very odd choice for the chief whip. I thought they missed a trick in Doris Dlakude, who has been the deputy to the last two chief whips and who would have made an excellent chief whip. But, I was wrong about Mr Mthembu. Hopefully, I’ll be wrong about the new chief whip as well.”

Majodina, who is known for her larger-than-life fashion, says she’s ready to dazzle Parliament with her sartorial choices.

She says she will lay low for now, but has some surprises in store for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation address in June: “I’m known for portable fans and big hats. But the State of the Nation is still coming. We dress to kill! Watch this space!”

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit is a Reporter, Journalist, and Broadcaster.

Related stories

Does the Expropriation Bill muddy the land question even further?

Land ownership and its equitable distribution has floundered. Changes to a section of the constitution and the expropriation act are now before parliament, but do they offer any solution?

Watch it again: Ramaphosa details economic recovery plan

According to the Presidency, the plan aims to expedite, in a sustainable manner, the recovery of South Africa’s economy

Malawi’s new president is off to a good start

In 100 days of presidency, Lazarus Chakwera has been mostly well received despite a few glitches

It’s vital to get the Copyright Amendment Bill right

The currently proposed hybrid ‘fair use’ principle does not do nearly enough to protect artists, and will bankrupt them if it forces them to litigate each instance of copyright infringement

Infrastructure key to economic recovery — Ramaphosa

The governing party wants localisation at the centre of its infrastructure-led strategy

Politicians must be held accountable

Endless, toothless internal integrity committees are not the way out of corruption

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Air pollution link in 15% of global Covid-19 deaths

Researchers have found that, because ambient fine particulate air pollution aggravates comorbidities, it could play a factor in coronavirus fatalities

Mboweni plans to freeze public sector wage increases for the...

The mid-term budget policy statement delivered by the finance minister proposes cutting all non-interest spending by R300-billion.

SAA to receive R10.5-billion government bailout after all

Several struggling state-owned entities received extra funds after the medium term budget policy speech

BMW X3 thrives in the M stable

The compact SUV is so at home with its new badge that’s it’s surprising it didn’t happen sooner

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday