African National Congress chief whip Jackson Mthembu says he supports Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign to lead the governing party in December, saying his active support for the presidential hopeful is made as an ANC member in good standing, and not related to his day job.
In a recent interview with Daily Maverick, Mthembu said he believed Ramaphosa was the right candidate to drive the renewal of the ANC back to its traditional values, as shown by his campaign message to tackle state capture and corruption.
“I am part of the CR17 [Ramaphosa] campaign. Those who are sniffing, they do know that. There’s nothing to hide,” he asserted.
“All members of the ANC can pronounce on their preferences. There’s absolutely nothing untoward. That I am a chief whip is neither here nor there. It has nothing to do with the position I hold. It has everything to do with my membership of my organisation, the ANC.”
Mthembu rejected the Sunday Independent report alleging that Ramaphosa was involved in extramarital affairs with several women. He said he did not care who slept with whom, but there needed to be the political will to change in the ANC and show South Africans that change.
Ramaphosa has denied the allegations levelled against him, saying they were part of a “smear campaign” meant to discredit his presidential campaign to replace President Jacob Zuma when he steps down as party leader at the ANC’s 54th national congress in December, to be held in Johannesburg.
The deputy president, however, admitted he had an affair with a Limpopo doctor that had ended eight years ago in an interview with the Sunday Times.
“I had a relationship with only one person, and it ended. I dealt with it with my wife. We now have a professional relationship,” Ramaphosa told the paper at the weekend.
Mthembu said the credibility of Africa’s oldest liberation movement had taken a nosedive among its supporters due to corruption and state capture, saying what was needed was leadership.
“The person of Cyril Ramaphosa, I am quite confident, he’ll be able to deal with the challenges. But more than that, deal with the challenges we have in the economy. He will know how to inject some oomph into the economy and respectability to government,” he said.
The ANC chief whip also said he would not want to leave his party in “the tattered condition it is in now”.
“Even if I failed, I would have tried,” he said.