Ten­sion has reached fever pitch as ANC MPs must choose be­tween party loy­alty and their con­science

CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAKINANA, HLENGIWE NHLABATHI and SETUMO STONE news@city­press.co.za Con­tin­ued on page 4

Tues­day is D-Day for Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma. By the end of the day he will know whether he has sur­vived the umpteenth at­tempt to oust him or whether he has to va­cate the Union Build­ings and his Mahlamba Nd­lopfu pres­i­den­tial res­i­dence. As the build-up to the op­po­si­tion-ini­ti­ated vote of no con­fi­dence mo­tion in the Na­tional As­sem­bly reaches fever pitch, there is fran­tic lob­by­ing from both sides of the di­vide to con­vince MPs to cast their votes a cer­tain way.

Zuma’s sup­port­ers are telling cit­i­zens and each other that re­mov­ing him is not in the coun­try’s best in­ter­ests, while his op­po­nents in­side and out­side of the ANC are ar­gu­ing that this is the best chance to de­fend the Con­sti­tu­tion and halt state cap­ture.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties claim that they have se­cured enough votes to meet the 201 “yes” votes they need to re­move him. A list with names of ANC MPs favour­ing a vote of con­science is also cir­cu­lat­ing, al­though its ve­rac­ity could not be es­tab­lished.

How­ever, the ANC has called for a three-line whip – com­pul­sory at­ten­dance at a par­lia­men­tary sit­ting – and has in­structed all its MPs to vote against the mo­tion.

The party in­sists that it does not op­pose the vote be­ing held in se­cret.

But the ANC and Zuma’s hopes of suc­cess could be scup­pered by op­po­si­tion par­ties as they gear up for a court bat­tle should Na­tional As­sem­bly Speaker Baleka Mbete de­cline a se­cret vote.

Yes­ter­day, the DA was con­sult­ing its lawyers af­ter Mbete missed a 9am DA-im­posed dead­line to re­veal whether vot­ing dur­ing the mo­tion would be done by se­cret or open bal­lot.

DA chief whip John Steen­huisen said Mbete was leav­ing “this an­nounce­ment to the last pos­si­ble mo­ment in or­der to make this about the se­cret bal­lot rather than Zuma”.

If she de­cides against a se­cret bal­lot, op­po­si­tion par­ties could take her de­ci­sion on re­view, de­pend­ing on her rea­sons for do­ing so. The mo­tion, in ef­fect, seeks to dis­solve the en­tire ex­ec­u­tive.

By yes­ter­day, Zuma op­po­nents in the ANC re­mained un­cer­tain about how Tues­day’s vote would un­fold.

“I think it is go­ing to be some­thing that changes hour by hour,” said one of Zuma’s staunch­est crit­ics.

“In all like­li­hood, I think it is go­ing to go to court,” he added.

On Fri­day, ANC Chief Whip Jack­son Mthembu said vot­ing to re­move Zuma would not only “col­lapse gov­ern­ment”, but also cause “enor­mous frac­tur­ing” in the party and be tan­ta­mount to throw­ing “a nu­clear bomb” on South Africa.

He said the ANC cau­cus discussed the mo­tion with four of the party’s top six of­fi­cials in at­ten­dance.

The cau­cus made it clear that it “would not be led by the op­po­si­tion”.

Ahead of what could be one of the most dra­matic events in post-1994 South Africa, Par­lia­ment’s pro­tec­tion ser­vices held a meet­ing yes­ter­day in the leg­isla­tive precinct.

The “white shirts”, a group of so-called bounc­ers em­ployed by the leg­is­la­ture, held a sep­a­rate meet­ing away from Par­lia­ment. Also in at­ten­dance were rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the State Se­cu­rity Agency, the SA Po­lice Ser­vice and the Pres­i­den­tial Pro­tec­tion Unit.

Sources in Par­lia­ment’s pro­tec­tion ser­vices told City Press that, be­cause of this, their su­per­vi­sors had no clue about the day’s se­cu­rity ar­range­ments.

City Press also learnt that all seats in the pub­lic gallery had been re­served, and that a num­ber of mem­bers of Andile Mngxi­tama’s Black First Land First move­ment had ap­plied and se­cured them.

The ANC is ex­pected to flood the pub­lic gallery with its sup­port­ers.

While ANC MPs Makhosi Khoza and Mondli Gun­gubele may vote with the op­po­si­tion, City Press has learnt that dis­grun­tled ANC MPs, who were sent to Par­lia­ment to quell fac­tional bat­tles in their prov­inces, may do the same.

Sources in the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers told City Press about a bloc of dis­grun­tled ANC MPs – friends of their leader, Julius Malema – who were re­moved from the Lim­popo pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment to warm up Par­lia­ment’s back benches.

The list also fea­tures, they said, other dis­grun­tled MPs re­moved as may­ors and MECs.

But while some MPs pre­fer a vote of con­science, there is no guar­an­tee that they will vote this way if the mo­tion is not se­cret. A pe­ti­tion pur­port­ing to come from Western Cape strug­gle vet­er­ans, which in­cludes the names of MPs and mem­bers of the Cab­i­net, was cir­cu­lat­ing yes­ter­day sup­port­ing the mo­tion.

ANC MP Pravin Gord­han said: “I have been talk­ing pub­licly, so you do not have to worry about me”.

In a TV in­ter­view, Gord­han said: “Con­science is go­ing to be an im­por­tant fac­tor,” adding that oth­ers had made the vote “about a choice be­tween al­le­giance to the Con­sti­tu­tion and the in­flu­ence of an in­di­vid­ual MP’s po­lit­i­cal party. Let us wait un­til Tues­day and see what hap­pens. I have said that my con­science will guide me.”

Deputy Min­is­ter of Co­op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs Obed Bapela said he would vote against the mo­tion. He added that a se­cret vote would set a prece­dent that would en­able the rich “to buy MPs for their own self­ish in­ter­ests”.

“This will be work­ing against the as­pi­ra­tions of the poor and will re­duce the strength of the po­lit­i­cal par­ties, who are the ones put into of­fice by the vot­ers,” he said.

“Yes, one took an oath to be loyal to the Con­sti­tu­tion, and in vot­ing against the mo­tion I will be stay­ing true to the con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tions and re­spect­ing the out­come of the 2014 elec­tions, where the ANC got 62%.”

But oth­ers were more cau­tious. The first ANC MP on the vot­ing list, Bev Abra­hams, said: “You will have to wait for Tues­day once we have voted. I am the first one, so you will see which di­rec­tion I vote. Once we have voted, you will see my name first”.

ANC MP Fezile Bhengu said: “You do not go around telling peo­ple how you are go­ing to vote.”

Deputy De­fence Min­is­ter Kebby Maphat­soe said he was go­ing to toe the ANC vot­ing line.

“To vote against the mo­tion is to de­fend the gains of the revo­lu­tion and make sure that we fast track the erad­i­ca­tion of poverty, un­em­ploy­ment and in­equal­ity. Peo­ple who are push­ing this mo­tion are the ones who want to re­verse the gains,” he said.

He said those who wanted Zuma out were “speak­ing to some of our peo­ple, but the num­ber that they want they will never get”.

Maphat­soe said Zuma might even re­ceive votes from op­po­si­tion benches be­cause they know Zuma’s re­call would harm the econ­omy. “Not all op­po­si­tion par­ties think this is the cor­rect way. The im­pli­ca­tions of re­mov­ing a sit­ting pres­i­dent are not good for our coun­try,” he said.

Anti-Zuma cam­paign­ers fear that an op­po­si­tion-led bid to oust him would gen­er­ate sym­pa­thy for pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma ahead of the ANC’s De­cem­ber con­fer­ence.

“This [mo­tion] might even de­rail the plan of rid­ding the ANC of cor­rupt el­e­ments,” said one MP.

Po­lit­i­cally, it would be wrong to re­move Zuma on Tues­day, “im­ma­te­rial of how an­gry you might be”.

“We have a con­fer­ence com­ing now. That is where many of my com­rades are fo­cus­ing their en­ergy.”

Party mem­bers cam­paign­ing for Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa to suc­ceed Zuma were also doubt­ful the op­po­si­tion would se­cure enough votes to suc­ceed.


AT THE CEN­TRE Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s po­lit­i­cal fu­ture is in ques­tion pend­ing Tues­day’s vote

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