Cape Town - A “humiliated” Pallo Jordan has resigned from Parliament and the ANC’s national executive committee to avoid further “deceit”, following revelations that he misrepresented his academic qualifications.
The ANC said his resignation would allow Jordan, 72, time to deal with his “guilt”.
The veteran politician has also apologised to the party and South Africa as a whole after going to ground after newspaper reports about his false qualifications.
Party secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said on Monday night that the party had received a “detailed explanation” from Jordan on claims that his qualifications were false.
“True to his character, he has apologised to the ANC, its membership and South Africa as a whole. Comrade Pallo Jordan has also offered to resign his membership of Parliament, the national executive committee of the ANC and the ANC. The ANC national officials have accepted his resignation from Parliament. His membership of the NEC and the ANC have been referred to the structures of the organisation,” said Mantashe.
His statement was slightly different from an earlier ANC statement by chief whip Stone Sizani which supported Jordan, saying his qualifications were irrelevant in his role as an MP.
Mantashe said a man of Jordan’s intellect “does not need to perpetuate deceit”.
“He must be given time to deal with his guilt. As the ANC, we have accepted his public apology; to apologise was not an action of the faint-hearted,” said Mantashe.
The dramatic turn of events followed a Sunday Times report that Jordan had gone to ground after it had come to light that he did not have the postgraduate qualifications he had been associated with for decades.
No evidence could be found that Jordan, who goes by the title “Dr”, had received an honorary doctorate.
On Monday, the ANC in Parliament was first to break the silence on Jordan’s mysterious PhD and other qualifications, which he claimed were bestowed on him by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, among others, saying it fully supported the “intellectual giant”.
“The office of the ANC chief whip (Sizani) in Parliament has noted recent reports… We reaffirm our unshakeable respect, admiration and confidence in him as one of the movement’s most treasured assets with a unique and unparalleled knowledge and experience on a wide range of social, economic and political matters,” said ANC caucus spokesman Moloto Mothapo.
Jordan was one of the ANC’s “greatest products, a public intellectual par excellence and a consummate historian” and continued to make for the nation and its young democracy, said Mothapo.
The party in Parliament rejected as a “mere publicity gimmick any intention to have the matter entertained by Parliament”, as there had not been any violation of the parliamentary ethics code or misrepresentation.
But one ANC parliamentary insider said Jordan was “humiliated” although he had not broken any rules.
“Everybody would feel humiliated; personally it’s embarrassing,” said the member.
Political commentator and Mercury columnist Eusebius McKaiser congratulated the ANC on his Facebook page.
“Well done to the ANC-as-party having more moral guts than the ANC-in-Parliament. It’s a beautiful rarity when the ANC role-models the party-state distinction. Nicely done Gwede. Not so nicely done in Parliament Stone,” said McKaiser.
Jordan, who was born in Kroonstad, was the son of Priscilla Phyllis (born Ntantala) Jordan, a teacher and researcher, and Dr Archibald Campbell Jordan, a lecturer in “Bantu” languages at Fort Hare University.
The family moved to Cape Town and Jordan matriculated there. Both parents were activists and when he enrolled at UCT, he was similarly inclined. By 1960 he had joined the ANC and had begun serious Marxist studies. His father obtained a Carnegie fellowship after major promotion at Fort Hare, but was refused a passport. The family nevertheless left for the US.
Jordan, while studying at the University of Wisconsin and later the London School of Economics, continued with his Marxist associations, but among its academic “non-communist” followers.
By 1975 he was working full-time for the ANC in its London-based information wing, moving to Luanda, Angola, in 1977 to head Radio Freedom and in 1980 to Lusaka, Zambia, to head the ANC research unit of the Department of Information and Publicity. He rose in the ranks of the ANC and returned to South Africa after its unbanning in 1990.
Pallo Jordan was sworn in as an MP and minister of posts, telecommunications and broadcasting after the April 1994 elections. In 1996 he was appointed minister of environmental affairs and tourism after a cabinet reshuffle, a position he held until 1999. He served as chairman of the foreign affairs portfolio committee from 2002 to 2004, when he became minister of arts and culture, a position he held until 2009. – Biographical details obtained from SabinetLaw