Political Watch

No confidence procrastination has ANC in deep trouble

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Weeks of procrastination over how to deal with a parliamentary vote of no-confidence in President Jacob Zuma now has the ANC in deep trouble.

Unless, one way or another, Mr Zuma vacates the presidency before the party’s December elective conference, the alliance between itself, the South African Communist Party, and the trade union alliance Cosatu, is something of the past, in all but name.

Meantime, reports and rumours of plans to establish an alternative alliance are persisting. It is increasingly looking like it is only a matter of time, and/or timing before a breakup becomes reality.

And, some ANC members of parliament has publicly gone on record that they will, in line with their consciences, be voting for a motion of no confidence in Zuma. Whether it take place by way of an open, or secret ballot, has become irrelevant in all respects, bar maybe the size of the dissenting vote amongst ANC MPs.

Whichever way Speaker Baleka Mbete decision – open, or secret ballot – goes, the split in the ANC over the position of Zuma, and what he represents, will be ‘official.’

 Earlier this week Winnie Madikizela-Mandela told the BBC that, although the ANC has “messed up South Africa,” the no confidence vote will make no difference. That will have to wait for the December elective conference.

However, things have changed dramatically, especially in the face of ex-Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s public declaration that he will be voting with his conscience during the no confidence ballot, and senior ANC MP Makhosi Khoza calling on Zuma to step down.

Calls from other ANC formations for him to step down are also mounting. Also, earlier this week, a group of stalwarts and veterans said it is wrong for the party to expect its members of parliament to vote along party lines when a motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma comes up after parliament reconvenes on August the 8th.

However, it can be expected that in the coming days pressure, and even intimidation, will be brought to bear, from within the ANC, on dissenting MPs and other prominent ANC members.

Khoza already, after receiving death threats, found it necessary to write to the Speaker, requesting a secret ballot, citing her safety as reason.

In effect acknowledging that it has a problem to keep an united front, in a statement yesterday the ANC took note of “serious transgression of its disciplinary code” by those who continue to attack the organisation and its leadership on public platforms.

"We are worried about MPs of the ANC who continue to undermine their own organisation and yet they are representatives of the ANC," the statement said

"These are public representatives representing, among others, the ANC, sent by the ANC to parliament, they are [now] turning against their own organisation," it further stated, implying that disciplinary steps might follow.

SAPC position

The present situation has members of the SACP, who have become members of parliament on an ANC ticket, in a peculiar – even intolerable – position.

While yesterday’s ANC statement again makes the party stance clear that MPs, first, and foremost, represent the party and its interests, in this instance it is in direct conflict with decisions of the just concluded SACP national conference.

The moment of truth for the SACP on the question if they are an equal or junior partner, has arrived.

Senior, leading members of the SACP is also facing a stern and important test of integrity – especially in light of its congress’ decision that it might contests future elections under its own banner.

It has become a legitimate question to pose, why MPs like SACP leader Blade Nzimande and the Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, have not declared how they will vote on the motion of no confidence?

We also do not know if, when, or what guidance the SACP will give to their MP members, on this particular matter.

Even if their numbers might not swing the result one way or another, it is important to note that much more than just the numbers are at stake. Do members of parliament really represent the voting public, or are zombie like pawns of political parties and their leaders?

Conclusion

No-one, not even the best-informed ANC insider, can predict what the final outcome will be. A period of intense political uncertainty lies ahead with high levels of danger for political and social instability.

What is certain, however, is that the changes for the ANC emerging in one piece post the Zuma leadership era, whenever it may come, has become very slim.

by Piet Coetzer

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