Mthembu cau­tions on JZ’s re­moval

Ouster will be dis­as­trous for SA

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - MAY­I­BONGWE MAQHINA

THE ANC cau­cus in Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day stuck to its guns in re­ject­ing the mo­tion of no- con­fi­dence in President Ja­cob Zuma, say­ing his re­moval would be like throw­ing a nu­clear bomb to the coun­try.

Brief­ing the me­dia ahead of the Tues­day de­bate, chief whip Jack­son Mthembu in­sisted that Zuma’s re­moval would not be in the best in­ter­ests of the coun­try.

He added cur­rent “ir­ri­ta­tions” should not blind pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives to act in a man­ner that de­stroyed ev­ery­thing built since the dawn of democ­racy.

“Vot­ing in favour of the mo­tion will be tan­ta­mount to throw­ing a nu­clear bomb… The re­moval of the president will have dis­as­trous con­se­quences that can only have a negative im­pact on the peo­ple of South Africa,” he told a me­dia brief­ing in Par­lia­ment.

“It will re­sult in the en­tire cabi­net hav­ing to re­sign, which will lead to the col­lapse in gov­ern­ment with long-last­ing ram­i­fi­ca­tions. It will plunge our coun­try into com­plete po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity and eco­nomic un­cer­tainty,” Mthembu said.

The brief­ing was called to clar­ify the stance of the ANC cau­cus days be­fore Par­lia­ment con­venes to de­bate the mo­tion.

The Con­sti­tu­tional Court’s Chief Jus­tice Mo­go­eng Mo­go­eng ruled that Speaker Baleka Mbete has the dis­cre­tion to de­cide whether the vote should be a se­cret or an open bal­lot.

Mbete has yet to make her de­ci­sion but op­po­si­tion par­ties have threat­ened le­gal ac­tion if it is not a se­cret bal­lot, while the ANC said it would ac­cept what­ever de­ci­sion.

The gov­ern­ing party wants loy­alty from its MPs but pres­sure is mount­ing that they use their con­science when cast­ing their bal­lot. Mthembu said Zuma’s re­moval would thrust the coun­try into un­cer­tainty the ANC has not pre­pared for.

“This will in­ad­ver­tently neg­a­tively af­fect the poor and work­ing-class the most as they are de­pen­dent on gov­ern­ment for their liveli­hoods. If we say we are at the level of junk sta­tus just imag­ine what will be the im­pact of this move in the eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment. Our view is that it will be just negative,” he said.

He rub­bished the DA-spon­sored mo­tion as a po­lit­i­cal ploy to max­i­mize their gains at the ex­pense of the coun­try.

Mthembu, how­ever, said the de­ci­sion to vote against the mo­tion should not be seen as de­fend­ing or protecting an in­di­vid­ual.

“We did not get into a strug­gle to de­fend any in­di­vid­ual. We got into the Strug­gle to serve our peo­ple and the coun­try. We are protecting our coun­try and our hard-fought democ­racy.”

This was de­spite the ANC hav­ing a his­tory of de­fend­ing Zuma from the time of his rape trial to when the security up­grades at his Nkandla home- stead were probed. Mthembu took a swipe at the op­po­si­tion par­ties for want­ing the ANC MPs to sup­port the mo­tion.

EFF leader Julius Malema has said about 60 have in­di­cated they could vote for the mo­tion if it was con­ducted in se­cret while the UDM’s leader said yes­ter­day he had spo­ken to about 70.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane this week made a “sin­cere ap­peal” to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to in­flu­ence the ANC to back the mo­tion.

“It is hyp­o­crit­i­cal of the op­po­si­tion to want ANC MPs to defy their party man­date when they do not al­low the same in their own par­ties,” he said.

Mthembu said it was wish­ful think­ing by the op­po­si­tion that ANC MPs would vote for the mo­tion.

“I have seen and heard other party lead­ers say there are about 60 ANC mem­bers who will put their vote in the pos­i­tive block. We are say­ing there is no such thing. We will vote against the mo­tion be­cause it is crude and a pop­ulist at­tempt to un­seat a pop­u­larly elected gov­ern­ment by the op­po­si­tion,” he said.

PIC­TURE: BONGIWE MCHUNU

Jack­son Mthembu has warned that the re­moval of President Ja­cob Zuma could bring chaos.

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