Motion could be a doubleedged sword
THE VOTE on the motion of no-confidence in President Jacob Zuma will be an opportunity for ANC MPs to redeem themselves to their constituencies.
This was the assertion by ANC stalwart Sydney Mufamadi yesterday after the Constitutional Court’s ruling that National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has the powers to allow a secret ballot.
“MPs should think of the vote as an opportunity to correct a wrong they did. The vote will be an opportunity to test where their loyalty lies – with the people of South Africa, or not. If they fail to hold the president to account then that has negative implications,” Mufamadi told The Star.
He said there was no basis to deny a secret ballot.
“She (Mbete) said she was not opposed to it and now she has been enlightened. She cannot change her mind now and say she is against it because she never gave reasons before why a vote of no-confidence should not be held in secret.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said Mbete should use her discretion in deciding whether to allow the use of a secret ballot during a motion of no-confidence in Zuma.
Mantashe told The Star there was no need for the party to hold a meeting on the matter.
“The Speaker is the Speaker of Parliament. The Constitutional Court says she has powers to exercise her discretion. When you are a ruling party you don’t run the portfolio of a person in finer details. You allow the person to exercise her mind,” he said.
Mbete had argued that she was not empowered to institute a secret ballot. But the court yesterday threw the ball in her court, pushing her into a tight corner on whether to grant it or not.
Mantashe said Mbete’s use of her discretion on the matter was in line with the court’s judgment.
He was reacting to the Constitutional Court’s decision confirming the argument by opposition parties, led by the United Democratic Movement, that Mbete had the powers to allow for a secret ballot.
UDM chief whip Nqaba Kwankwa has written to Mbete to ask her to schedule the motion in Parliament urgently.
Delivering his verdict yesterday, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said: “The Speaker says that neither the constitution nor the rules of the National Assembly allow her to authorise a vote by secret ballot.
“To this extent, she was mistaken. Our interpretation of the relevant provisions of the constitution, and the rules, make it clear that the Speaker does have the power to authorise a vote by a secret ballot in a motion of no confidence in the president.”
There were fears in the ANC that despite the party instruction that their MPs should support Zuma, those opposed to the president might use the secret ballot to vote to oust him.
A few hours after the judgment, Zuma told MPs that he did not support a secret ballot and that the motion would be defeated for the eighth time.
Zuma was unperturbed in Parliament during a question-and-answer session, denying there were any convincing reasons by opposition parties for a secret ballot.
“How did we vote in the seven (motions of no confidence in the past)? Why this time we do it differently?” he said.
“My view is that we have to do what we have done in the past times,” he said.
Zuma said he was fit and proper to lead the country and would not go, because the ANC had not recalled him. “I think the people of South Africa did not make a mistake by electing me. I am fit and I’m doing it very well.”
Only the ANC could remove him from office, he added.
Zuma also had to field tough questions around his son Duduzane, who is seen as the proxy in his controversial relationship with the Guptas, who are at the centre of the state capture saga.
Duduzane’s name has featured prominently in the leaked Gupta emails detailing the extent of the family’s influence in the running of government affairs.
A visibly irritated Zuma told opposition MPs they were being “unfair” for accusing his son of benefiting from his presidency.
“I have not heard that his business has ever benefited from government, where Zuma has benefited… to say, give him something.
“Never, I’ve never done that. He’s involved in business on his own accord and there are circumstances why he had to go to business,” said Zuma, responding to DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
“There’s a situation that has created unemployment, it’s not created by Duduzane going into business… you can’t single out one young person and victimise the person just because he’s the son of the president. It’s not fair‚ it’s not correct.”
THE ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, which is the biggest province of the governing party by numbers, has officially endorsed former African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to be the next party president.
Addressing eThekwini’s ANC regional general council in Durban yesterday, Nontembeko Boyce, provincial executive committee (PEC) member, threw her weight behind Dlamini Zuma.
KwaZulu-Natal is the first province to give Dlamini Zuma the nod. This was after the Northern Cape backed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed President Jacob Zuma in December.
The ANC’s KZN regional general council was held to finalise policy issues they wanted supported at the party’s provincial general council this weekend at the University of Zululand.
As custodians of the ANC, branches would be visited by the PEC to request “comrade Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to be released to be the president”, said Boyce.
“As the province where Nkosazana is coming from we are releasing her because we have seen that people are talking about her,” said Boyce.
She said Dlamini Zuma had the capacity to rise to the character of longest-serving ANC president Oliver Tambo.
“We said we want the type of leadership that is going to turn around the situation in the movement. We want a leadership that is going to work effectively to change the challenges of the ANC to be the success stories of the ANC.”
Dlamini Zuma has already been endorsed by the ANC Women’s League, the Umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans’ Association and the ANC Youth League.
Last week, the ANCYL had released a list of other leaders it wanted to lead with Dlamini Zuma. They included Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza as deputy president, Free State premier Ace Magashule as secretary-general, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa for national chairperson, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane as treasurer-general and deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, to retain her position.
During the eThekwini RGC, the ANC, ANCWL and ANCYL in the region also called for eThekwini branches not to make a mistake by not supporting Dlamini Zuma.
ANC eThekwini regional chairperson Zandile Gumede said the region had not made up its mind about other people to serve in the top six, “but with Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma we make no mistake”.
In a veiled swipe at Dlamini Zuma’s contender, Ramaphosa, Gumede said: “You should not vote for the rich to lead our movement, because even the Bible said they will never see the kingdom of heaven.”
Ramaphosa enjoys support from a disgruntled grouping aligned to former premier Senzo Mchunu. The faction has taken the current provincial leadership to court over their election.
Gumede said the PGC should put on its agenda the issue of a media tribunal to be debated at the party national policy conference in Johannesburg at the end of the month.
She added that the matter had been left unimplemented after it had been “endorsed by previous policy conferences”.
“In Polokwane, we said Parliament must take a decision on a media tribunal and do away with self-regulation, but nothing has happened. We went back to Mangaung and made the same decision, but still nothing has happened.
“However, Parliament was quick to set up an ad hoc committee to deal with the SABC, which tells us that Parliament implements certain resolutions and leave out others,” she said.
VICTORIOUS: UDM Leader Bantu Holomisa, Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota and members of opposition parties addressing the media after the Constitutional Court ruling on the motion of no-confidence secret vote.
BOMBARDED: President Jacob Zuma reacts during a question-and-answer session in Parliament yesterday. President Zuma answered questions relating to poor governance, ailing economy, state capture and corruption within his government, amidst growing opposition to his lack of leadership.