DA has over­stepped it­self

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

YES­TER­DAY, the DA’s bid to dis­solve Par­lia­ment came un­der fire from all quar­ters, but par­tic­u­larly the other op­po­si­tion par­ties in the house. The DA, hot on the heels of the un­prece­dented eighth no con­fi­dence mo­tion in the pres­i­dent held by se­cret bal­lot on Tues­day night that the ANC only nar­rowly man­aged to de­feat, mooted dis­solv­ing Par­lia­ment on a tech­ni­cal­ity.

In short, if the op­po­si­tion par­ties were to re­sign en masse, this would take the Na­tional Assem­bly be­low the crit­i­cal mass of 350 mem­bers needed to con­tinue to op­er­ate, forc­ing a gen­eral elec­tion.

The prob­lem is that the DA has failed to dis­cuss this with other op­po­si­tion par­ties, and merely chose to an­nounce its plan.

The Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers, in par­tic­u­lar, were scathing, not­ing that their cau­cus had ap­proached the DA with ex­actly the same pro­posal ear­lier this year af­ter the Con­sti­tu­tional Court found that Par­lia­ment had failed to ex­e­cute its du­ties by hold­ing the pres­i­dent to ac­count over the tax­payer-funded ren­o­va­tions to his per­sonal home­stead at Nkandla – only for the DA to re­ject it out of hand.

The DA has now writ­ten to the Speaker’s of­fice call­ing for a mo­tion or a vote on this issue, say­ing Tues­day’s vote had shown that Ja­cob Zuma’s pres­i­dency is not sup­ported by the ma­jor­ity of South Africans.

We be­lieve dif­fer­ently. We be­lieve, in fact, that the DA has over­stepped it­self and, in the process – as has be­come the norm in South African pol­i­tics – stands the very real dan­ger of undoing all the gains it might have made this week.

Tues­day’s vote was about the char­ac­ter of the pres­i­dent and his fit­ness for of­fice, not the gov­ern­ment.

Even so, and even with a free vote guar­an­teed by the se­cret bal­lot, the op­po­si­tion par­ties and dis­si­dent mem­bers of the rul­ing party were un­able to muster the sim­ple ma­jor­ity needed to oust him.

Tues­day was a seis­mic mo­ment for our democ­racy, but to move now for an­other vote – which the DA will not win – is just van­ity.

If it feels this strongly, it should stop show­boat­ing and, as the EFF sug­gests, force its mem­bers to re­sign en masse.

Is it pre­pared, though, to put its money where its MPs’ mouths are?

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