LETTER: If pigs fly, president might act

by | Jul 14, 2023 | General | 0 comments


Your report on the future of Paul Mashatile (“Ramaphosa says Mashatile is not on his way out”, 9 July) contains a revealing gem of information that fell from the lips of the president.

He is quoted as saying: “I’m the only one who could remove him unless the party decides and then does that.”

This statement needs to be contrasted with that of ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula, who was reported as saying: “If a minister does not comply, does not do what is expected, the president must act. He has all our support.”

The proof of the pudding is to be found in the political demise of presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. When the ANC so decided, they departed from their cabinets as disciplined cadres must do.

The law on cabinet ministers is far less complicated than ANC practices: ministers (including the deputy president) serve at the pleasure of the president, who presides over the national cabinet.

The ANC’s cadre deployment policies regard all political appointees, including the president — who is head of state — as Luthuli House’s deployed cadres of the national democratic revolution. The highest decision-making body in the ANC between conferences is the national executive committee, on which all four “deployed cadres” mentioned above serve. It has exercised its power to revoke cadre deployments in cabinet in the past. It seems Mbalula has either forgotten that this is so, or that he prefers the supportive role of Luthuli House to that of decisionmaker.

Pigs will fly before the ditherer in chief makes any decision on his own that affects the future of either Mashatile or mineral resources & energy minister Gwede Mantashe in his national cabinet. He and Mantashe go back to their pre-liberation days as union organisers in the mining sector, many years before Mbalula’s political career began. The president is a firm believer in what he calls “democratic centralism”, a concept that is foreign to the constitutional dispensation in place in our multiparty democracy.

Paul Hoffman SC
Accountability Now

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