The writer says the criticism of the ANC by outgoing Minister of Planning Trevor Manuel is too little, too late. Picture: Siyabulela Duda

Only now that Trevor Manuel is leaving Parliament, is he brave enough to lambaste his comrades publicly, says Siphiwe Sithole.

Johannesburg - Outgoing

Minister of Planning Trevor Manuel’s criticism of attacks on chapter nine institutions by his ANC colleagues is, far from being an act of allegiance, an act of treachery.

All of a sudden, now that he is retiring from active politics, Manuel is assuming the role of a moral voice within the ANC.

The timing is suspect in light of the many other shenanigans on which he failed to speak his mind.

Now that he is leaving Parliament, he is brave enough to lambaste his comrades publicly.

The fundamental issue here is not his coming to the defence of chapter nine institutions, especially in light of the public protector’s damning findings on the upgrade at Nkandla.

It is the timing that is suspect.

A key member of the ANC, Manuel never uttered a word when it came to matters that demanded decisiveness in condemning acts of corruption threatening to erode our constitution.

Why he has waited until we have reached the current state where our democratic institutions are in danger is mind-boggling.

By his own admission, South Africa is going down a slippery trajectory and needs everyone to play their part to defeat the evil that threatens to undo our gains.

It is said one cannot cure an evil disease with a sweet medicine but Manuel’s recent actions – waiting until his exit to administer medicine by way of his belated criticism – have betrayed his indecisiveness.

He is as haughty as those accused of corruption.

It would, therefore, not be far-fetched to suggest that he put his well-being before the interests of the country while he was in government.

This is why, although his words find resonance with many aggrieved communities, his criticism will be regarded as the actions of a desperate man trying to disassociate himself from the actions of a government of which he has been a key part.

The fact that Manuel is not an ordinary member of the ANC but its senior leader should have led him to speak out many times.

His criticism of his comrades would have made a great impact if he had done so.

Speaking out now does not make Manuel any better than Julius Malema who accuses some ANC leaders of being corrupt while he himself was silent when he was within the party’s leadership.

In order for the ANC to return to its status of being a colossus, it needs leaders who will not flinch at the slightest appearance of misrule and corruption.

The consistency of leaders like ANC veteran Pallo Jordan in condemning acts of corruption sets an example that must be followed by everyone in and outside the government.

On countless occasions, Jordan has been a voice of conscience and has done so regardless of those involved in acts that fall short of required standards expected of leaders.

Pallo personifies the calibre of leaders the ANC so desperately needs to revive its dwindling political fortunes.

To speak truth to power is not foreign to the ANC, but inherent.

Siphiwe Sithole

Daveyton, Benoni

* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

The Star