JZ’s mo­ment of truth

Frenzy af­ter Speaker’s sur­prise de­ci­sion

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - LUY­OLO MKEN­TANE AND SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI luy­olo.mken­tane@inl.co.za siyabonga.mkhwanazi@inl.co.za

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

PIC­TURE: CINDY WAXA

‘ZUMA MUST GO’: Many marched to Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day to hand over a mem­o­ran­dum call­ing for the re­moval of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

PIC­TURE: HENK KRUGER / ANA PIC­TURES

‘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

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