Dear Ms Mbete, please resign
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If there is any honour left in you, you should resign, DA MP Wilmot James says in an open letter to National Assembly Speaker and ANC chairwoman Baleka Mbete.
Dear Ms Mbete
I write to you in your capacity as the chairwoman of the governing party, the ANC.
As I understand it, our role as chairpersons is to unite our organisations in pursuit of a political purpose, yours to create a better life for all and ours to create more opportunities for all, the same goal really, but using different methodologies to get South Africa there.
It seems that in the decisions recently taken by the ANC, you have abandoned your higher political purpose, best defined in 1994 under Nelson Mandela’s governance, as a “better life for all”.
Your pollster and strategist at the time, Stanley Greenberg, argued against the use of your first option “now is the time”, because it sounded like revenge when what South Africa needed was unity and reconciliation.
I say abandoned because it seems to me that your sole political purpose today is merely to hang on to power by protecting President Jacob Zuma whose probity, integrity and honour have been in question and under scrutiny ever since he assumed the highest political office in the land in 2009.
When you invited the security services into Parliament last week, a premeditated act of destructive violence, you betrayed your political organisation’s noble cause.
There are many ANC individuals and leaders who still believe in your foundational political creed.
There are some in cabinet who do what they can under the circumstances to help poor South Africans make a better life.
But they have become a minority, because the warrior caste in the ANC has been in ascendance to protect the rapidly waning moral authority, little to start off with, of President Zuma.
You would know best from whence you recruit your warriors, but I believe that they are drawn from those who stand most to lose from Zuma’s plummeting popularity.
To subject Parliament to your party’s venal requirement of merely keeping a morally tepid president in power is a betrayal of your higher purpose both as party chairwoman and Speaker.
We should have known that this was coming.
Gareth van Onselen tells the story in his two-part series Driving Ms Mbete (www.inside-politics.org).
When you refused to step down as ANC chairwoman upon your election as Speaker – a conflict of interest if there was one – it was clear you paid lip service to, but had no time for our Constitution.
You seem to forget that MPs represent the people.
When you preside in Parliament, you do so in the company of the people’s representatives.
The role of MPs are defined in terms of Section 42 (3) of the Constitution “to represent the people and to ensure government by the people under the Constitution.
It does this by choosing the president, by providing a national forum for public consideration of issues, by passing legislation and by scrutinising and overseeing executive action.’
While we do not agree with the disruptive tactics of the EFF, it was wrong to strong-arm its MPs out of the sacrosanct chamber using the force you invited to besmirch and sully the people’s chamber.
It was wrong to use Parliament to protect rather than scrutinise and oversee presidential action, and it is ethically decrepit to justify your conduct by diminishing your victims, calling them “cockroaches”, the inflammatory language of genocide.
Had you been white, you would have gone down in history as one of the worst racists of this world.
You are unfit to be Speaker and if there is any honour left in you, you should resign.
* Dr Wilmot James, MP, is chairman of the official opposition, the DA.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.