Zuma told his ‘deadline to quit has expired’
THE gloves came off yesterday as ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile and chief whip Jackson Mthembu tore into President Jacob Zuma and told him his deadline to quit had expired.
They announced that the National Assembly would sit today to vote on an ANC motion to vote Zuma out. However because if he has not resigned already, the sitting will not take place. But the National Assembly will sit tomorrow to elect ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa as president. He will deliver the state of the nation address tomorrow evening.
“The pressing issue is that we need to get ANC president Ramaphosa elected as president. Everything will flow from that. Obviously issues of the new Cabinet, those are issues that the president will deal with once elected,” ANC treasurer-general Mashatile said at a media briefing yesterday.
He said: “We want to do things quickly. We are starting a new era. I did say to caucus that conference (54th national conference held in December) has created in our people a new hope. We want to go with renewal. We don’t have to be bickering about who should be president.”
Mashatile said: “There were discussions with President Zuma to find an exit for him. He has chosen not to agree to leave.”
Mashatile and ANC chief whip Mthembu spoke to the media after a special caucus meeting in Parliament. They said the caucus, which was briefed about talks with Zuma, had been in support of the no-confidence debate.
As the new president, Rampahosa will deliver the state of the nation address tomorrow night. The ANC also wants the Budget to be delivered as scheduled next week.
“We will be firm that the debate on Sona will be held on Monday. We will be firm that the new president responds on Tuesday. We will be firm that the Budget statement will be released next week,” Mthembu said.
Asked what would happen if Zuma resigned in the interim, Mthembu said: “If there’s a resignation, good.”
The ANC’s move for the parliamentary removal of President Zuma came after his refusal to resign and the intransigence of the EFF to allow the ruling party to change its motion of no confidence in him.
This motion was due to have been held next week, but the EFF has asked National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to allow it to happen this week.
Mthembu, while confirming that the ANC had talks with the EFF about the motion, said the ANC’s own motion would amend that of the EFF and be voted on today. It would have been preferable for the ANC to table its own motion. “It would have been nice for them to withdraw their motion but they refused. Our rules allow for amendment,” Mthembu said.
The ANC motion would not have changed the substance of the EFF’s motion. “The amendments we are making as the ANC are amendments that will not detract. We are bringing our reasons why the president must be removed,” Mthembu said.
Mbete yesterday informed EFF leader Julius Malema that the no-confidence debate has been scheduled for 2pm today.
She had come to this decision after discussions with the leader of government business, Cyril Ramaphosa, and Parliament’s chief whip Jackson Mthembu, she said to Malema.
She also told him she had considered his request for a secret ballot, but had determined that voting should be held through an open ballot.
Mbete was responding to Malema’s demand an EFF-sponsored vote of no confidence scheduled for February 22 should be this week.
Meanwhile, the DA said it was heartened by the ANC decision “to support the motion of no confidence in President Zuma”.
“This affirms what the joint opposition has argued that Zuma must be removed by Parliament as the only constitutional body empowered to elect and dismiss presidents. This is an important vindication of the constitutional powers of Parliament.”
NO CONFIDENCE DEBATE: ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile, left, and chief whip Jackson Mthembu addressed a media briefing yesterday.