JZ’s moment of truth
Frenzy after Speaker’s surprise decision
ANC MPs yesterday effectively took over the spotlight from Speaker Baleka Mbete after she announced that the vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma would be conducted by secret ballot.
Some of the MPs who were expected to vote against Zuma in Parliament today expressed their happiness with Mbete’s decision that the no-confidence motion would be conducted by secret ballot.
But opposition parties were still not convinced.
Late yesterday, they were trying to set up a meeting with ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu today to discuss the mechanics of the secret ballot ahead of the vote by MPs later in the day.
The IFP’s chief whip Narend Singh said they would meet with Mthembu today ahead of the vote to discuss the procedure. He said this was to ensure that there were no gaps in the system and that nobody would know how any MP voted in the secret ballot.
In a flurry of last-minute activity, top ANC officials appeared at the parliamentary caucus at least four times to discuss the motion of no confidence and to urge them to toe the party line. But it appears some might not. Moments after Mbete announced her ruling, ANC MP Zukiswa Rantho, whose name appears on a list of ANC MPs expected to vote against Zuma, told The Star that she was very pleased with the Speaker’s decision.
“There is nothing shocking about this. I knew from the get-go that it’s going to be a secret ballot. The pressure for a secret ballot was just too great….
“Actually, I’m very pleased about this decision, because we have to show the nation that we’ve got nothing to hide and that we are accountable to the citizens.”
Rantho is acting chairperson of the portfolio committee on public enterprises. The committee is among four tasked with investigating the claims of state capture.
Rantho is 69th on a circulating list of more than 90 ANC MPs who were expected to vote against Zuma.
But the ANC caucus in Parliament dismissed the list as “fake news”, saying some people on the list were no longer MPs and that “this shows the utter desperation of our detractors”.
Also on the list are, among others, axed finance minister Pravin Gordhan, former Ekurhuleni mayor Mondli Gungubele and Makhosi Khoza, who have all called on Zuma to step down.
But Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said she would not vote with her conscience, but would toe the party line.
“Never, ever in my life will I vote with the opposition… over my dead body. The announcement about the secret ballot didn’t matter at all to me.”
Mbete said she had decided on the secret ballot in the motion of no confidence against Zuma for the sake of transparency.
She added that she respected the Constitutional Court’s decision and had taken advice on its findings.
“The Constitutional Court indicated that the electorate is at times entitled to know how their representatives carry out even some of their most sensitive obligations and this includes voting in a motion of no confidence,” she said.
EFF leader Julius Malema said Mbete’s decision had not been voluntary, but was based on legal opinion. If it were up to her, she would not have allowed a secret ballot, Malema pointed out.
“Jackson Mthembu did not support a secret ballot. President Jacob Zuma did not support a secret ballot. Baleka (Mbete) went against the party line. Baleka was not reading a media statement there… She was reading a legal opinion. Every lawyer she went to told her this is the only way to go,” Malema said.
Social Development Minister and ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini said the DA-sponsored motion was an attempt to “usurp power” from the governing ANC.
“You won’t want to grab power by hook or crook. This is part of usurping power. What’s sad is that this agenda is a personal vendetta that started long, long ago.”
Dlamini said they would take their “marching orders” from the ANC and that they expected all ANC MPs to “behave” and vote according to the party’s wishes.
Mthembu has said voting for Zuma’s removal would be tantamount to dropping a nuclear bomb on the country.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the party was on record saying it would “accept and abide with any decision that the Speaker takes” and that the motion would fail, “like many before it”.
It wasn’t voluntary. Every lawyer she went to told Mbete this is the way to go
FORMER finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas said yesterday’s march to Parliament by civil society organisations should shape the country’s future and build a mass movement that holds public representatives accountable.
“We are gathered here to shape the future of this country. We must take it away from those who are abusing it,” Jonas said.
“We must as South Africans stand up and take our future into our hands,” he said when addressing thousands outside Parliament.
The march was calling to the ANC to recall President Jacob Zuma and that MPs should vote with their conscience.
“What must move from here is a solid movement of South Africans who care about the future of South Africa. This mobilisation must continue,” Jonas said.
“We have made a serious mistake after 1994. We demobilised our community. We mobilised society as a whole,” he added.
“That was possibly the most dangerous, historic mistake that the country made,” Jonas said.
He insisted that the movement of civil society should hold politicians and political parties accountable.
“We can’t leave accountability to the Constitution only, we can’t rely on courts only. We must consolidate a mass movement that holds everyone in government accountable,” Jonas said.
He said there was a time in the history of every nation when it was faced with two choices – one choice is to submit and be happy or to fight.
“As a country we cannot submit (so) as South Africans we fought very hard to be where we are. We cannot allow our freedom to be sold so cheaply as it is being sold now.”
Bishop Zipho Siwa of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa saluted Speaker Baleka Mbete for deciding on a secret ballot.
“We want to tell Madam Mbete tomorrow is the day, tomorrow is coming,” he said.
“We speak as South Africans from all walks of life… We want to say everything must change. The people of South Africa have spoken. They must hear what we say here today.”
He said the MPs should remove Zuma who has presided over a failed government, and accused of scandal after scandal.
“Everything is in the public domain. It is clear what is in the public domain demands that the president must step aside and allow the country to move forward,” Siwa said.
He sent a stern warning to parliamentarians.
“As the people of South Africa, we will come for you,” he said.
“Do the right thing or wait for South Africans to do it for you,” he warned.
Equal Education’s Tshepo Motsepe said the civil society was on its own and called for introspection after August 8.
“We really need to think what this democracy means. We have a country that has been sold to a family that came here with nothing,” Motsepe said.
Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said the labour federation was part of the march to “get that thief Zuma” out because the only people who prospered in the country were his children.
“We come today to knock on the door politely and say to the MPs: ‘Vote Zuma out’. If you don’t vote Zuma out, we will be back in our thousands,” Ehrenreich said.
As the people of South Africa, we will come for you
‘ZUMA MUST GO’: Many marched to Parliament yesterday to hand over a memorandum calling for the removal of President Jacob Zuma.
‘FOR SAKE OF TRANSPARENCY’: Speaker Baleka Mbete announced that the vote in a motion of no confidence in the president will be by secret ballot. At least 50 of the ANC’s 249 MPs need to vote with the opposition parties today to remove Zuma from office.
STAND UP: Mcebisi Jonas