Ralph Mathekga

The ANC's ultimate privilege

2017-07-31 08:51
President Jacob Zuma. (Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Beeld)

President Jacob Zuma. (Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Beeld)

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For connoisseurs of South African politics, the next installment to watch will be on August 8th when Parliament votes on the motion of no confidence tabled against President Jacob Zuma. 

Although Mr. Zuma survived countless motions in the past, this time he has to do some real work to ensure that he survives. In the previous motions, Zuma did not have to lift a finger to see another day as the president of the country. This time however, the president’s allies are resorting to threats and aggression as they attempt to encourage ANC members not to get carried away and start thinking that they can follow their conscience when casting their votes on the motion. 

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula even went as far as to say that those ANC members of Parliament who consider voting against Zuma are as good as ‘suicide bombers’. This shows that the impeding motion is not a picnic; it’s a life and death issue. 

While it is not impossible for ANC MPs to vote against Zuma, the glaring question remains who would be the rightful claimant to this revolution if Zuma is voted out in Parliament. On the one hand are the opposition parties, responsible for tabling the motion. The opposition parties calculated that it would be more political fun to stage a motion against a backdrop of serious allegations that Mr. Zuma has mortgaged South Africa to the Gupta family, and not even the highest bidder. How offensive! 

The opposition are counting on some ANC MPs to vent their frustration about their party and Zuma’s leadership by voting to pass the motion of no confidence against Zuma. This is not impossible given the internal rifts within the ANC. 

Then there is the issue of uncertainty regarding what would eventually happen if Mr. Zuma is voted out. This goes back to the question of who would claim victory and who should have more say in choosing his replacement. Will it be Cyril Ramaphosa or should it be a caretaker president until the 2019 elections? 

In case no replacement can be agreed upon because the people who would have teamed up for this revolution have different preferences, which political party between the ANC and the DA would gain the most if elections were to be held before 2019 due to failure of Parliament to agree on a new president?

All these questions are saying something very clear; that the revolution of August 8th has no owner. It is a cause that is driven by too many divergent agendas. 

For ANC members and MPs who might have initially found the idea of voting against Zuma enticing, time might have brought to them a perspective that says two more years of Zuma is not the end of the world. It’s all about how you look at it. 

Why stroke the opposition’s ego by allowing them to succeed in Parliament after they have done very well in court, pushing against decisions by Zuma’s government? The opposition seems to be getting used to victories and it should not be allowed to celebrate the own goal on August 8th. 

I often remind some of my friends that the job of destroying the ANC is a privilege that will only be enjoyed by ANC members themselves; no opposition party shall taste this forbidden fruit. 

Instead of allowing the opposition parties to enjoy the victory of removing Zuma, ANC members will most likely vote in support of Zuma. This move will save Zuma but will eventually destroy the ANC in the 2019 elections, an outcome that ANC members would have orchestrated. That is the ultimate privilege: destroying one’s party by blocking any move that could eventually save it.

- Ralph Mathekga is an independent political analyst and author of the book When Zuma Goes. He writes a weekly column for News24.

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Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  no confidence vote  |  parliament
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