Parliamentary Watch

No confidence debate – DA in need of strategy brush-up

Pastor Maimane needs some worldly advice
Pastor Mmusi.jpg

 In view of how things played out last week in parliament around the DA’s motion of no confidence, the party clearly needs an urgent and fundamental brush-up of its strategic thinking.

From the word go it was known that, with the African National Congress’ strong numerical superiority in the National Assembly (NA), there was no chance that the Democratic Alliance’s motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma would succeed. In the end it was easy for members of the ANC caucus to rationalise, not totally without justification, that they are really defending the party and not Zuma.

It was, even before the debate itself, clear what the ANC line would be when it launched a tweet blitz, using the hashtag #ConfidenceInZuma, punting claimed achievements of the party.

That this pre-emptive strike by the ANC amounted to contemptuous behaviour towards parliamentary processes was apparently missed by the DA in the eventual debate. Likewise, it missed that one of the tweeted claims (that some five million houses had been built since 1994) was found to be false.

In the bigger scheme of things this was a relatively small slip-up by the DA. Things really started going wrong with the conception of the strategy to bring the motion – especially against the background of the Constitutional Court (CC) already considering a matter that could result in grounds to impeach the president.

What did the motion of no confidence and its defeat in the NA achieve? In summary:

  • It illustrated the DA’s total lack of power in parliament;
  • It afforded the ANC caucus grounds and an opportunity to close ranks – making them aware that in the final instance their personal careers and bread and butter depended on the parliamentary position of the party;
  • It afforded the DA’s strongest competition in opposition, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), an opportunity to claim some moral high ground by not lending any semblance of legitimacy to the president;
  •  It, more importantly, afforded the EFF the opportunity remind the public that the real battle, which could lead to impeachment procedures, is taking place in the CC and that it was they that took it there in the first place; and
  • It distracted some attention from the resignation of the ANC’s chief whip in parliament since 2013, Stone Sizani, apparently also due to developments in the EFF’s case in the CC.

In its single-minded focus on Mr Zuma the DA might also be missing some other opportunities – even responsibilities to hold government to account – that could have wider implications for the ruling party.

For instance, Mr Sizani, who is now to be ‘redeployed’ to a senior and key ambassadorial post in Germany, is not someone without serious controversy attached to his person.

Among other things, his wife, Portia “Pankie” Sizani‚ was last month acquitted by the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court on five counts of money laundering, but still has charges outstanding for which she has to return to court in June.

In its reaction to the news about Sizani, the DA, through its own chief whip, John Steenhuisen, merely labelled it a clear indication of schisms within the ANC caucus, linked to Mr Zuma.

If the Congress of the People (Cope) is correct in their statement on the matter, the one party that again stands to pick up political kudos from this development, is the EFF.

“Cope has reliably learnt from sources within the ANC that the last straw for Sizani was the sudden somersault (in the CC case) of Mr Zuma when he said that he is prepared to pay back a portion of the money illegally spent on his private residence in Nkandla,” the party said.

There is no small irony in a statement by the EFF, generally portrayed as a radical and fringe party, on why they attended the debate on the motion of no confidence, but did not take part.

In the statement it says it appealed to the speaker of parliament and the DA “to postpone the debate and allow finalisation of the Constitutional Court matter”, with no success. “The EFF will continue to use legitimate platforms and uphold the constitution in the process of removing the illegitimate and compromised president who has undeniably failed to uphold the Constitution and true values of principled president.”

It often looks as if the newcomer to parliament, the EFF, is strategically running circles around the DA, with its much longer parliamentary tradition. This might just have an effect on the outcome of the municipal election later this year.

by Steve Whiteman

Follow us on Twitter | Like us on Facebook
comments powered by Disqus

Subscribe to the newsletter

Final Word

Final Word

IntelligenceBul Final Word Confusing world of sluts, gays and lesbians 0 years - reply - retweet - favorite

IntelligenceBul Let's Think Will Zuma admit that he is a “shady man”? 0 years - reply - retweet - favorite

IntelligenceBul Propery & Wealth Home-grown financial solution for a truly South African dilemma 0 years - reply - retweet - favorite