"I LOVE the man that can smile in trouble," said the America philosopher Thomas Paine, "that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection".At face value Jackson Mthembu, the newly appointed African National Congress (ANC) chief whip, would seem to be the kind of person Paine had in mind.Mthembu is an affable and gregarious individual, but as a former ANC national spokesman, he was often the brave face of a party in much distress. He has spent a significant part of his political career defending and promoting positions that were not his own.President Jacob Zuma was responsible for a great many of them. Along with Mac Maharaj — who polished and shined the president’s official remarks — Mthembu would provide the gloss when Zuma inevitably sparked some outrage or other as ANC leader.It could be an inane business."If, indeed, the use of the word heaven in a figurative expression was deemed inappropriate by the South African society and the world at large, expressions s...

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