Thursday, November 13, 2008

His master's voice speaks no more

Smuts Ngonyama, former head of the Presidency, has resigned from the ANC to join the Congress of the People (COP/Cope). This is unsurprising given that Smuts was at the SA National Convention and was so closely associated with former President, Thabo Mbeki. Mr. Ngonyama discussed his thoughts on leaving the ANC with QPQ at the convention. Click here for the interview, the news article by Fiona Forde of The Star appears below.

Struggle stalwart Lulama "Smuts" Ngonyama has resigned from the ANC to join the Congress of the People (Cope), bringing to an end more than 30 years of party loyalty.

The 56-year-old former ANC spokesperson told Independent Newspapers that "it is with great, great sadness" that he has reached this point, but feels that he can no longer recognise the values of the liberation movement to which he belonged. "This is not the ANC I knew," he said.

Ngonyama was due to speak to the ANC this morning to make known his intentions before hosting a press conference.

Although he joins a host of other comrades who have walked away from the ANC in recent weeks, he thanked the party for giving him the political upbringing that they did, "for giving me the kind of attributes and values that will always stay with me," and for affording him the opportunity to work with a host of great leaders.
He made particular mention of former president Thabo Mbeki, with whom he worked closely for a number of years, "who groomed me to become what I am today. I am deeply, deeply thankful to him," Ngonyama said.

He also thanked the incumbent president, Kgalema Motlanthe, with whom he worked in Luthuli House while he was party spokesperson and while Motlanthe was Secretary General.

Ngonyama intends to become a member of the Cope when the party is launched on December 16th but says it is too early to say whether or not he will play an active role in its ranks. He is currently studying for a Masters in South African Political Economy at the University of Nelson Mandela as well as lending a helping hand to start the Thabo Mbeki Leadership Institute. "I will have to weigh up all my responsibilities before we can begin to discuss that," Ngonyama said.

Ngonyama, who was born in Uitenhage, has held a number of high-ranking positions within the movement since he became an activist in the mid-1970s. He was elected to the NEC in 1994. Five years later became ANC party spokesperson, a position he held until the change in leadership at the Polokwane conference last December.

QPQ is hoping that COP/Cope will be able to draw many more disgruntled ANC members, but unfortunately Mr. Ngonyama comes with so much negative baggage from the Mbeki years that it is doubtful whether he will add value to the new organisation. Incididents such as his lashing out at political cartoonists (never a good idea as evidenced above), as well as the controversial dumping of Telkom shares stand out in my mind. I am wondering if being out of power will have a transformational effect on Mr. Ngonyama or if it will be more of the same from an old ANC aparatchik.

See also the M&G: 'Smuts Ngonyama cuts ties with ANC'


  1. Is Smuts not the chap that said he did not join the struggle to be poor?

  2. Yessir. Click on the link 'dumping of Telkom shares' in the article to see just how un-poor he became.