Parliament can't continue being a soapie - new ANC chief whip

2016-03-22 10:40
Jackson Mthembu (Susan Cilliers, Netwerk24)

Jackson Mthembu (Susan Cilliers, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - Newly appointed ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu plans to turn Parliament around, saying the legislature cannot be seen as a soap opera.

"We still need to reach out to everybody - all the parties. The Economic Freedom Fighters, the Democratic Alliance, the Freedom Front [Plus], the NFP, the IFP, all the parties... [we need to] make Parliament gain the confidence of our people, so that we are not seen as another soapie, which is the case," he told News24 on Tuesday.

"We are seen as a soapie and in fact I'm told we have more ratings than all the soapies put together. That's not what we are there for."

Mthembu said Parliament was meant to make the lives of citizens better by exercising oversight over the executive and through legislation.

"We must go back to that business of Parliament."

Sizani redeployed to Germany

Mthembu was appointed the ruling party's chief whip at the weekend, replacing Stone Sizani.

The ANC announced at the beginning of March that Sizani was being redeployed. He had been the ANC's chief whip since 2013, replacing Mathole Motshekga.

Mthembu commended Sizani for doing a "splendid" job during a difficult period.

"The Parliament of 2016 is not the same as the Parliament of 1994, 1999, 2004 etc. It's a different kettle of fish. Therefore that's what makes it a little more difficult to lead," he said.

Mthembu said the first thing he would have to do in his new role was meet with people who had been working in the chief whip's office in order to get a sense of the broader challenges facing Parliament.

Not coming in from the cold

He said he was not new to Parliament, as he had been serving as an MP since 2014.

"I'm not coming in like a china bull in a kraal, or in a china shop. I'm coming in as part of a collective, so the obvious thing to do is get where are we, but with an understanding of the broader challenges that face Parliament.

"I'm coming from Parliament, so I am not coming in from the cold."

Mthembu said he would also tackle the issue of absent ANC MPs, so that there was not a situation where legislation was not being passed because members were not in Parliament.

"We have very good cadres by the way, wonderful people, experienced people, people who come with various strengths from the ANC from Cosatu, from the SA Communist Party... but of course you will have a few who from time to time just play truant.

"So the ANC must nip that in the bud," he said.

Mthembu said he was looking forward to his new role and was honoured that the ANC leadership had chosen him.

"I will respect this appointment and do the best that I can do."

Read more on:    anc  |  jackson mthembu  |  stone sizani  |  parliament 2016

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