ROGER SOUTHALL

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

PRIOR to the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma in the Na­tional As­sem­bly, for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han, among oth­ers, urged ANC MPs to be guided by their con­sciences, im­ply­ing they should break ranks with their party and vote with the op­po­si­tion.

The thrust of Gord­han’s ar­gu­ment was that un­der Zuma, the pres­i­dency had be­come cor­rupt and mo­rally com­pro­mised. There­fore a vote against Zuma’s con­tin­u­ance in of­fice would be in the na­tional in­ter­est.

The fur­ther im­pli­ca­tion was that vot­ing for Zuma to go would, in the long-term, be in the in­ter­est of the ANC. The rea­son­ing was that, un­less the party was to re­turn to the val­ues for which the lib­er­a­tion Strug­gle was fought, it would wreak its own de­struc­tion.

The counter-ar­gu­ment by the ANC hi­er­ar­chy was that ANC MPs were bound by obli­ga­tion to the vot­ers who had elected them to vote the way the party in­structed.

MPs are not elected as in­di­vid­u­als, but as mem­bers of their party. To vote against the party line would be to over­turn the logic of democ­racy.

A fur­ther ar­gu­ment put for­ward by ANC speak­ers in the de­bate was that the op­po­si­tion was seek­ing un­con­sti­tu­tional “regime change”. This was cor­rectly chal­lenged. The op­po­si­tion pointed out the mo­tion had been put in terms of the con­sti­tu­tion, and that they were seek­ing to re­place the pres­i­dent, and not the ANC gov­ern­ment.

Although the ANC’s ar­gu­ment was man­i­festly “rub­bish” (to quote Wits aca­demic Ivor Sarakin­sky), the de­bate high­lighted a very real ten­sion at the heart of South

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