I'll resign as MEC if new role gets in the way - Themba Mthembu

SACP KZN PS tells reporters at press-briefing that he is 'no push-over'

KZN SACP's Mthembu says he will resign as MEC if new role gets in the way

Durban – KwaZulu-Natal's South African Communist Party's provincial secretary and newly appointed Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Themba Mthembu says if his new responsibilities affect the party, he won't hesitate to resign as MEC.

"I can tell you now that I am no push over… If the work I do there affects the party then I won't hesitate to resign," said Mthembu at an SACP press briefing in Durban on Tuesday afternoon.

The party was addressing the media after it had lengthy meetings with the ANC over Mthembu's deployment.

Mthembu, along with Bongi Sithole Moloi (Sport, Arts and Culture), Sihle Zikalala (Economic Development) and Mthandeni Dlungwana (Education), was appointed new MEC when Premier Willies Mchunu reshuffled his cabinet.

Mchunu filled the vacant transport portfolio, which he previously occupied, with Mxolisi Kaunda.

All the new MECs were sworn in on Tuesday, with the exception of Mthembu.

Processes flouted

It emerged on Tuesday afternoon that the SACP had learnt about the cabinet reshuffle through the media. When Mthembu was called and informed about his deployment on Monday morning, he had told the ANC that he needed 24 hours to consult with his organisation, but the ANC went ahead and made the announcement.

Mthembu said he only agreed to take up the position after the consultation process and when an agreement was reached that the ANC would deal with some of the issues that were destabilising the province.

"One of the things discussed was the candidate selection processes, which we believe have been flouted. We strongly oppose this list selection process that was conducted, particularly here in eThekwini."

"We just want the ANC to act like its character, the ANC that cares about people… We are facing a very dire situation in KZN. KZN is burning and if KZN is burning, it needs leadership and all these conflicts in KZN need confrontation," said Mthembu, who has been a member of parliament since 2009.

"We know what is happening in Nchanga, Folweni and KwaMashu. Those are some of the things we need to confront, whether we like it or not, whether we like each other or not.

"At the end of the day, it's about stability because we want development, let us not enter into a theatre of enjoying conflict."

Hidden factions

He said SACP members had previously been elected into executive positions but his only gripe was how the matter was handled in the province.

He also said the SACP could not hold the ANC accountable in implementing the agreement.

Mthembu said the SACP in the province has never agreed to or supported a cabinet reshuffle in KZN.

"We said it is wrong to undertake such a task at this particular time, but life must not stop."

Speaking on factions in the province, he said they had always existed within the region.

"Everyone is appointed into a position by a faction. We need to discuss what we are doing about it. In KZN we come from an era of factions. Remember the [Sbu] Ndebele and [Zweli] Mkhize factions? We have never been without a faction in KZN, now and again it raises its ugly head and then is hidden."

Reinforcing the work of the party

Mthembu said he could never be co-opted.

"When you co-opt me, you do it at your own risk. I don't think the ANC can do that. The ANC is actually giving us an opportunity to participate in the development of the country."

He said he wanted the provincial working committee to convince him to take up the position and they had.

Mthembu said whether he delivers or not as MEC will not be dictated by external influences.

"If I sell out, it will show my character. It won't be necessarily a co-option but me showing my true colours. I have been a chairperson of the Agricultural committee. There is no difference in being an MEC."

He said he had been able to lead the SACP as mandated.

"If [my new responsibility] affects the work of the party, I won’t hesitate to resign. It must not affect the work of the party. In fact, it must reinforce everything because we are alliance partners," he said.

This article first appeared on News24 – see here