Gwede Man­tashe is the only voice of rea­son

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS -

WITH so many con­fus­ing and con­flict­ing calls for this or the other be­ing made from all quarters and by po­lit­i­cal op­por­tunists of ev­ery stripe and shade, I have found that the gruff voice of ANC sec­re­tary­gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe is the one voice of rea­son.

Many will re­mem­ber it was Man­tashe who re­minded us that those who crit­i­cise the present lead­ers of the ANC should not al­ways sin­gle out the name of the late Nel­son Man­dela as an ex­am­ple of what a leader should be like, as if there were no other lead­ers be­fore him, or words to that ef­fect.

Man­tashe has been un­fairly crit­i­cised for say­ing that Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma should be de­fended by those de­ployed in Par­lia­ment when the op­po­si­tion par­ties in Par­lia­ment make sure that their lead­ers are pro­tected from ridicule, ma­li­cious at­tack or un­rea­son­able crit­i­cism.

While lead­ers of other par­ties can pro­tect them­selves from such at­tacks be­cause they are present in Par­lia­ment, Zuma ap­pears in Par­lia­ment by ar­range­ment. It is only right and log­i­cal that se­nior ANC lead­ers who are present when Zuma’s name is be­ing rub­bished, do their level best to de­fend him.

In fact, the good name of Zuma, es­pe­cially in Par­lia­ment, should be pro­tected by all leg­is­la­tures, ir­re­spec­tive of party-po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion. Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment have to pro­tect him, be­cause do­ing so means that they are pro­tect­ing the of­fice that he oc­cu­pies.

To say this is not the same as say­ing that he should not be crit­i­cised, but the line be­tween a ro­bust de­bate and acer­bic ma­li­cious de­bate is not fine. By all means, those who dif­fer with his views have the right to say so, but they can’t rub­bish Zuma be­cause of nar­row po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions.

Ev­ery­one must re­mem­ber that he is the head of state.

It is against this back­ground that the scuf­fle in­volv­ing Lindiwe Zulu in Par­lia­ment should be viewed and un­der­stood. She was moved to de­fend the name of the ANC.

Be­cause DA leader He­len Zille’s name is al­ways de­fended by her party, for ex­am­ple, other lead­ers of the party, like the Speaker of the Western Cape gov­ern­ment (Sharna Fer­nan­dez) and oth­ers, get pro­tected from un­war­ranted or ma­li­cious at­tacks from the op­po­si­tion. It is not al­to­gether un­rea­son­able to say that the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of many of the ANC lead­ers to­day is a di­rect fail­ure to pro­tect the name and dig­nity of their pres­i­dent.

The task of de­fend­ing Zuma falls on the shoul­ders of ev­ery mem­ber of the ANC, SACP, Cosatu and ev­ery South African who re­mem­bers a time be­fore 1990.

In­ci­den­tally, it would be fool­ish to al­low Zuma to ap­pear in Par­lia­ment if the op­po­si­tion in­sists on mis­be­hav­ing.

Bhun­gani ka Mzolo

Ar­ca­dia, Pre­to­ria

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