Pres­sure cham­ber

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

THE ANC turned on back­bencher Mondli Gun­gubele yes­ter­day. The vit­riol was clear to see. ANC chief whip Jack­son Mthembu has chal­lenged his own party to bring er­rant MPs into line. Mthembu doesn’t have much time left. A week from to­day, Par­lia­ment will vote for the umpteenth time on whether it has con­fi­dence in Ja­cob Zuma’s pres­i­dency. Up un­til now the ANC cau­cus has voted in lock­step, de­feat­ing the mo­tion.

This time, though, the stakes have never been higher. Only 50 of the ANC’s 249 MPs need to vote with the op­po­si­tion next week.

The pres­i­dent is re­viled, both in and out­side his party, with se­nior back­benchers like Pravin Gord­han, our for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter; Makhosi Khoza and now Gun­gubele, most re­cently Ekurhu­leni mayor, openly not just re­belling but pub­licly call­ing on their fel­low mem­bers of Par­lia­ment to vote against Zuma.

On top of this, the Speaker of the House, Baleka Mbete, has been told by the Con­sti­tu­tional Court that it is within her re­mit whether the vote should be se­cret.

It would ap­pear un­likely that she would of­fer MPs the op­tion of a free vote with no fear of con­se­quence.

This though doesn’t help Mthembu, when the voices of dis­sent are be­com­ing louder and more prom­i­nent.

His sav­ing grace thus far has been MPs’ fear of the con­se­quences, the knowl­edge that peo­ple wouldn’t com­mit ca­reer sui­cide with the loss of all the perks that go with be­ing an MP – in­clud­ing a gen­er­ous salary – any more than tur­keys would vote for Christ­mas.

The tenor of his outbursts and the ris­ing hys­te­ria show just how wor­ried Mthembu is about the un­think­able hap­pen­ing.

He can wave his party rule book as much as he wants, he can threaten and blus­ter, he can throw as much mud about in­di­vid­u­als’ mo­tives, but he’s liv­ing ev­ery par­lia­men­tary whip’s worst night­mare – the po­ten­tial of a run­away cau­cus.

And that night­mare just gets ex­po­nen­tially worse when it’s led by peo­ple of prin­ci­ple, against whom his threats are mean­ing­less.

The next seven days are go­ing to be very in­ter­est­ing in­deed.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.