Guest Column

SA has no confidence in Zuma - now Parliament must show him that!

2017-05-04 10:00
People speaking at Save South Africa's 'real State of the Nation Address' say citizens are fed up with the state of the country under the current administration. (Paul Herman, News24)

People speaking at Save South Africa's 'real State of the Nation Address' say citizens are fed up with the state of the country under the current administration. (Paul Herman, News24)

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Sipho Pityana

More and more South Africans are finding their voice, and speaking out in defence of our Constitution. We must salute them – and encourage even more South Africans to do the same.

It’s crucial that the people of South Africa take a stand against corruption and state capture and that we are united in demanding that President Jacob Zuma must go.

Zuma is a sell-out. He represents thievery, looting, corruption and state capture. We fought for our freedom, and we can’t stand by and let Zuma sell it to the Guptas or the Russians and whoever else is prepared to pay top dollar into his personal coffers.

This has been recognised by faith-based groups and the National Religious Leaders’ Council, who have shown leadership in demanding that Zuma must go. It has been echoed by workers and trade union federations such as Cosatu, Fedusa and Saftu – not to mention the Cosatu affiliates who refused to let Zuma speak on May Day.

Political parties have united around the call for Zuma to go, as have business organisations which have seen the consequences of Zuma’s misrule and expressed the fact that they have no confidence in him – a fact which has been echoed by the international ratings agencies.

Young South Africans have also taken up the call, through the Progressive Students’ Movement, young entrepreneurs and unemployed youth. So, too, have women’s organisations like Shukumani Bafazi, the South African Women's Collective and other women’s formations.

Separately and collectively, more and more South Africans are saying one thing: Zuma must go!
The Alliance is without allies

Inside the ANC and the Alliance, the volume is growing just as loud.

A growing number of ANC branches are saying they have had enough of the worst president the ANC has ever known. The stalwarts and veterans are insisting he be recalled. A large number of ANC leaders said so at the ANC NEC meeting in November, as did the ANC caucus in Parliament.

The MK Veterans’ Council has rejected the vigilante MKMVA's attempt to steal the rich heritage of the people's army in defence of a corrupt president and have joined others in demanding that he be recalled.

The SACP and Cosatu have both said he must resign, and even the ANC top six are starting to break ranks.

Jacob Zuma now stands isolated, in much the same way as John Vorster, PW Botha and FW de Klerk were successively isolated during the apartheid regime.
The ANC must decide

It is now up to the ANC to decide what to do about its isolated and corrupt leader. It has to act to end Zuma’s reign. It has to do it, and do it now. It has to recall Zuma before it is too late.

At his multi-million rand celebratory party, as his 75th birthday present to South Africa, Zuma said: “I am prepared to go only if the ANC tells me to go.”

Well, the message of the people of South Africa to the ANC is unequivocal: “Tell him to go. Because if you don’t, it means you want him to stay.”

After all, if the ANC can’t persuade JZ to resign, or fails to recall him, or indeed doesn't table its own motion of no confidence in Parliament; on what basis can the ANC justify blocking a motion of no confidence in Parliament that is tabled by others?
No confidence

The ANC has previously argued that it can’t support an opposition motion against its own leader. In light of the overwhelming societal consensus that he goes, that is no longer an acceptable excuse. Because it’s not just the opposition that wants Zuma to go – it’s the whole country, including key components within the ANC and the Alliance.

If ANC MPs vote against a motion of no confidence, they will be saying South Africa deserves Zuma’s continued leadership. They will be condemning the nation to corruption, looting and state capture. They will be doing what many of us would have considered unthinkable: selling our country and its people to the Guptas and other forces of state capture and corruption.

It will be a tragic historic moment when a glorious movement will have gone from being freedom fighters to sell-outs, like its President.
The ANC will have gone from being the People’s Movement to one that stands against people. It will be have isolated itself, just like the apartheid regime was isolated.

It will have abandoned its robes for Zuma's. The ANC will have become a force of darkness, crookery, dishonesty and criminality.

This is will be a very different ANC from the one many of us joined and loyally supported over the years. This will be an ANC that is a project of state capture. And when that happens, what will this mean for the many loyal ANC members and supporters?
This is a moment for decisive and scrupulous leadership in the interest of the country.

We count on the many on the NEC of the ANC to put aside their petty factional and personal agenda and confront the reality of having to relieve the president of his role as the head of state for the sake of the country.
Beyond Zuma

As Save South Africa, we are not just demanding that Zuma must go – we are demanding ethical, honest and responsible leadership from whoever takes his place.

We are insisting on leaders with credibility, which means replacing Zuma with a credible leader – not just a Zuma clone or lookalike.
It’s essential that we restore credibility and legitimacy to state organs, and regain control of our democracy.

This means ensuring that the criminal justice system is fixed, because only then can we address rampant crime, syndicates and drug trafficking. This means restoring the capacity, integrity and authority of the intelligence structures, ensuring that they provide security for the nation, not just for Zuma.

Part of the process requires the suspension of acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane on the basis of the current IPID investigation, and his replacement with a credible, professional leader for this critical institution. It also requires the permanent removal of the head of the Hawks, Berning Ntlemeza, who is clearly unsuited for this role.

In addition to that, the National Prosecuting Authority needs to be led by a credible and independent-minded director – not one who is trying to avoid charging Zuma.

Other institutions require credible leadership, too: National Treasury and entities such as SARS and the Public Investment Corporation; state-owned entities and parastatals; weak or corrupt government departments such as Mineral Resources, Public Enterprises, Education and Social Development.

Alongside this, we have to protect Chapter 9 institutions such as the Public Protector’s Office, the Independent Electoral Commission and the Human Rights Commission. And, crucially, we must preserve and protect the independence of the judiciary.
Programme of action

What, then, should our programme of action be?

For ANC members, it is clear that they should use their influence to demand an emergency NEC meeting to recall Zuma.
For South Africans across the country, the best option is to contact ANC MPs and urge them to support the motion of no confidence. Many people are already doing this, and we urge others to do the same.

People should demand meetings with the MPs assigned to their regions, to insist that they do the right thing during the no confidence debate -- and get Zuma out of office.

Save South Africa and other civil society formations will be protesting outside Parliament on the day of the vote, and political parties will be making their own voices heard inside the National Assembly.

The vote of no confidence is a critical milestone for South Africa. We expect MPs to do the right thing – and we call on South Africans to do whatever they can to help them make the right decision.
- Sipho Pityana is convenor of the Save South Africa campaign. He and other civil society leaders will be briefing the media on 9 May on future steps to build up the pressure for Zuma to go.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    sipho pityana  |  save sa


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