New chief whip of the ruling party Jackson Mthembu says Parliament can’t continue being a soapie. The newly appointed chief whip says he plans to change the rancorous robe of Parliament, arguing that the legislature cannot be seen as a soap opera.
Speaking to News 24 on Tuesday, Mthembu opined that other parties would be contacted and would be addressed to see the need to put aside parliamentary fights and rowdiness.
“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 added that in recent time, the National Assembly has lost its prestige and worth. Mthembu, appeared a little sarcastic when he said, “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.”
The new party official urged everyone to wear the tog of peace in order to restore the glory of the parliament. He stressed that Parliament members were elected to better the lives of the masses through legislation and not the other way around.
Mthembu said the first thing he would have to do in his new role will be to meet with workers in the chief whip’s office to get a sense of the broader challenges facing Parliament.
He noted that he is not a new fellow in the parliament, so putting certain things in place will not be too tasking. “I’m coming from Parliament, so I am not coming in from the cold.”
“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.”
Mthembu was appointed as ANC’s new chief whip over the weekend after former chief whip Stone Sizani resigned to take up the post of South Africa’s ambassador to Germany.
Sizani succeeded Mathole Motshekga in 2013. He has been in the parliament since 2014 as Parliament Member.
Mthembu also used the opportunity to applaud Stone Sizani for holding on while the ANC passed through turbulent times.
He buttressed his assertion by recalling that “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.”
Mthembu thanked the leadership of the ANC leadership for finding him fit to replace Sizani.
“I will respect this appointment and do the best that I can do,” he said.