The dan­ger now is of the DA and EFF over­reach­ing

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

POLITI­CIANS are adept at putting a good face on things. It’s one of their pro­fes­sional skills to pre­tend that the pig’s ear they’re clutch­ing is ac­tu­ally a silk purse.

So it is hardly sur­pris­ing that ev­ery party in­volved in this week’s failed mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma is trum­pet­ing its vic­tory. We should be es­pe­cially scep­ti­cal about the ANC’s boasts that it has routed the sa­tanic forces of covert regime change that mas­quer­ade as op­po­si­tion par­ties.

If this is in­deed the great vic­tory the Zuma camp claims it to be, then the ANC needs to be wary of its win­ning streak. Any fur­ther such “tri­umphs” may leave it fa­tally de­pleted.

The statis­tics speak for them­selves. The ANC, in com­bi­na­tion with al­lies in a brace of smaller par­ties, com­mands al­most two-thirds of the seats in the Na­tional As­sem­bly. Yet some­where be­tween 30 and 40 of its 249 MPs risked their po­lit­i­cal fu­tures to defy a three-line whip, to ei­ther vote against Zuma or ab­stain.

Zuma pre­vailed against this lat­est mo­tion by only a 21-vote mar­gin. For the in­cum­bent leader of a self-styled revo­lu­tion­ary or­gan­i­sa­tion that prides it­self on cadre dis­ci­pline, loy­alty and unity, and where the pres­i­dent has enor­mous pow­ers of pa­tron­age, this is an enor­mous hu­mil­i­a­tion.

It is cour­tesy of the Speaker, Baleka Mbete, that we can with some ac­cu­racy gauge the an­tipa­thy to­wards Zuma within his own party. Had she not agreed to the first se­cret bal­lot in the As­sem­bly, this no con­fi­dence vote would no doubt have echoed the pre­vi­ous seven faced by Zuma, in which not a sin­gle ANC MP broke ranks.

While po­lit­i­cal purists like my­self ob­ject to se­cret par­lia­men­tary bal­lots on the grounds that we should know how those we have elected to rep­re­sent us cast their votes, the sit­u­a­tion in South Africa at the mo­ment is any­thing but normal. Given the abuse and death threats that were di­rected at Makhosi Khoza, the ANC MP who stated pub­licly that she would vote against Zuma, a se­cret bal­lot was the only way to en­sure that ANC MPs could in safety carry out their oath of of­fice – to place the in­ter­ests of the na­tion above those of their po­lit­i­cal party.

The slim mar­gin of vic­tory will have set alarm bells ring­ing. It is a warn­ing to the Zuma-Gupta state cap­ture axis that it is go­ing to be more dif­fi­cult than they ex­pected to en­sure that their pre­ferred can­di­date, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, wins the party pres­i­dency.

Ev­ery bit of po­lit­i­cal chi­canery and ger­ry­man­der­ing will now be brought to bear to neu­tralise the grow­ing an­tipa­thy to­wards the Zupta fac­tion, be­fore the De­cem­ber elec­tive con­fer­ence.

It’s go­ing to get very nasty, very soon.

While the op­po­si­tion par­ties rightly claim credit for the con­sti­tu­tional ma­noeu­vrings that have left Zuma weak­ened and bereft of au­thor­ity, the ku­dos are not only theirs.

It is civil so­ci­ety, in the form of ac­tivist or­gan­i­sa­tions and a gatvol, mo­bilised cit­i­zenry, which cre­ated a swell of pop­u­lar opinion for a se­cret bal­lot that was im­pos­si­ble for Mbete to ig­nore.

As the daily pub­li­ca­tion of #Gup­taLeak e-mails reveals, the ex­tent of cor­rup­tion mir­ing his ad­min­is­tra­tion, and the grow­ing dis­en­chant­ment with Zuma must ter­rify ANC lead­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to an Ip­sos poll re­leased this week, if there were an elec­tion to­mor­row, the ANC would not be able to achieve an out­right ma­jor­ity. And an ear­lier poll found Zuma’s per­sonal sup­port had dropped to its low­est level, with an ap­proval score of 2.8 out of 10 among the gen­eral pub­lic, ris­ing to only 4.2 among party sup­port­ers.

Aside from Zuma’s co­terie, those who would have heaved the great­est sigh of re­lief about the no con­fi­dence vote fail­ing, will have been those who brought the mo­tion – the op­po­si­tion par­ties. They se­cretly know their best op­tion is for the ANC to have to wear the Zuma mill­stone for the next 18 months, un­til the 2019 gen­eral elec­tion. But the game goes on. The DA is now call­ing for Par­lia­ment to be dis­solved and an early elec­tion to be held be­cause, de­spite win­ning the par­lia­men­tary con­fi­dence vote, the ANC has, in the DA’s view, man­i­festly lost the con­fi­dence of the elec­torate.

The EFF, in turn, wants to im­peach Zuma.

The op­po­si­tion should not al­low its ela­tion over this week’s vote to cause it to over­reach.

A rolling cam­paign of the kind en­vis­aged – de­signed to mire Par­lia­ment in petty party pol­i­tick­ing that has no prospect of suc­cess – may well frit­ter away the broad pub­lic sup­port gar­nered so far.

● Fol­low WSM on Twit­ter @ TheJaun­dicedEye

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.