Gwede Mantashe is the only voice of reason
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