Zuma tells MPs to vote against mo­tion, or else

CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAKINANA, SETUMO STONE and HLENGIWE NHLABATHI news@city­press.co.za

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma warned ANC MPs against vot­ing with the DA dur­ing a heated par­lia­men­tary cau­cus meet­ing on Thurs­day – a move that has been in­ter­preted by some in Par­lia­ment as a sign of panic, as the pres­i­dent rarely at­tends cau­cus meet­ings.

Zuma al­legedly told ANC MPs it would not make sense for them “to come to Par­lia­ment on a party ticket and then turn around to vote with an­other party”.

Two MPs told City Press that Zuma ex­plained the com­ments he made dur­ing a cel­e­bra­tion rally in eDumbe in KwaZulu Natal last Satur­day. He told the cau­cus that he wanted to clar­ify the state­ment that he was not afraid to go to jail and put it into con­text.

Zuma al­legedly said his op­po­nents had been us­ing jail to in­tim­i­date him. Ac­cord­ing to one MP, he ar­gued that he was not go­ing to sit back and al­low peo­ple to keep throw­ing the “jail talk” at him.

The DA mo­tion came at a time when a num­ber of ANC mem­bers – ac­tive ones and stal­warts – were call­ing for Zuma’s head, say­ing the pres­i­dent was fail­ing the party and the coun­try.

Elec­tronic mes­sages pur­port­ing to be from an ANC fac­tion op­posed to Zuma – and de­tail­ing how the group­ing would vote with the DA – were do­ing the rounds on Thurs­day morn­ing.

This led to a de­ploy­ment of in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tives around the precinct, and claims that they were de­ployed to keep an eye on those ANC mem­bers seen as be­ing anti-Zuma.

This is ac­cord­ing to four ANC MPs, who par­tic­i­pated in quash­ing the DA’s mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in Zuma in the Na­tional Assem­bly on Thurs­day. That rowdy event was pre­ceded by the pres­i­dent’s un­usual at­ten­dance at the ANC cau­cus meet­ing ear­lier that day. MPs de­scribed Thurs­day’s meet­ing as “ro­bust and heated”, adding: “It was made clear to Zuma that we were go­ing to de­fend the ANC – but not him – be­cause it is time the or­gan­i­sa­tion had its mo­ment of in­tro­spec­tion and self-cor­rec­tion.”

Among those men­tioned as hav­ing warned ANC MPs against show­ing un­crit­i­cal sup­port for Zuma were the SA Com­mu­nist Party’s first deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary Jeremy Cronin, ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber Phil Ma­pu­lane, and for­mer mayor of Ekurhu­leni Mondli Gun­gubele. Ma­pu­lane al­legedly told the meet­ing that they could not, and would never, vote with the DA – but that did not mean the ANC should not deal with the con­cerns about its pres­i­dent.

Those who spoke out against Zuma al­legedly said they were un­happy with how things were in the ANC, and pro­posed an in­ter­nal plat­form for the party to deal with the is­sues.

In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions Min­is­ter Maite Nkoana-Masha­bane, Wa­ter Af­fairs and San­i­ta­tion Min­is­ter Nomvula Mokonyane and State Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter David Mahlobo are said to have come to Zuma’s de­fence as he sat qui­etly lis­ten­ing.

Nkoana-Masha­bane al­legedly ar­gued that it was un­fair to sin­gle out the Gup­tas in the so-called state cap­ture de­bate, say­ing other pow­er­ful fam­i­lies such as the Ru­perts and the Oppenheimers should be in­cluded.

Ac­cord­ing to sources, this ar­gu­ment was coun­tered, with Ma­pu­lane say­ing it was wrong to in­sin­u­ate that be­cause the Gup­tas were black or In­dian, they must not be dealt with.

Ma­pu­lane re­fused to com­ment, say­ing he did not dis­cuss ANC mat­ters in the me­dia.

For­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s rec­om­men­da­tion for a ju­di­cial in­quiry to fur­ther in­ves­ti­gate state cap­ture also found sup­port among the anti-Zuma MPs. They agreed that Zuma could not be ex­pected to select the judge for the in­quiry be­cause “there is con­flict of in­ter­est”.

The op­pos­ing group ar­gued that, con­sti­tu­tion­ally, the power to ap­point the head of the ju­di­cial in­quiry rested with Zuma.

“They do not ap­pre­ci­ate the con­text that the man can­not be the ref­eree and the player at the same time,” said an ANC MP.

A par­lia­men­tary in­sider said that in­tel­li­gence ser­vices were brought in be­cause of the para­noia trig­gered by in­for­ma­tion of a se­cret agree­ment reached be­tween some ANC MPs to pos­si­bly vote with the DA.

“They did beef up the in­tel­li­gence team. There is the in­tel­li­gence de­ployed in Par­lia­ment for state se­cu­rity, but yes, it was beefed up be­cause they were pan­ick­ing, only to find that there was noth­ing,” said the source.

Moloto Mothapo, the spokesper­son for the ANC cau­cus, sug­gested there was noth­ing un­usual about Zuma’s pres­ence at Thurs­day’s cau­cus meet­ing, say­ing the pres­i­dent was a mem­ber of cau­cus and at­tended its meet­ings reg­u­larly when he was in the coun­try.

Mothapo con­firmed that the ANC had called a three-line whip on Thurs­day – Par­lia­ment jar­gon for com­pul­sory at­ten­dance and an in­struc­tion to vote in a par­tic­u­lar man­ner.

“How­ever, even with com­pul­sory at­ten­dance, there would be crit­i­cal or dire cases com­pelling the chief whip to grant an MP leave of ab­sence. Sim­i­larly, there could be a last-minute emer­gency that could force some­one who had not given prior re­quest for leave not to at­tend.”

Yet de­spite the ANC call­ing for a three-line whip, 33 of its MPs did not at­tend the ses­sion.

Ac­cord­ing to par­lia­men­tary pa­pers, 58 MPs did not vote and City Press counted 33 ANC MPs’ names among them – in­clud­ing Zuk­isa Faku, who was re­moved from her seat in Septem­ber, af­ter be­ing sen­tenced to three years’ house ar­rest for fraud.

Among se­nior ANC MPs who did not at­tend the sit­ting and did not vote were Gord­han, Health Min­is­ter Aaron Mot­soaledi, Hu­man Set­tle­ments Min­is­ter Lindiwe Sisulu, Jus­tice and Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices Min­is­ter Michael Ma­sutha and for­mer ANC chief whip Mathole Mot­shekga, who re­cently spoke out against the pres­i­dent.

Some of Zuma’s staunch sup­port­ers, such as So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini and Deputy Min­is­ter of De­fence and Mil­i­tary Vet­er­ans Kebby Maphat­soe, were also ab­sent.

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