Ralph Mathekga

MPs can't punish Zuma without hurting the ANC

2017-08-07 08:39
President Jacob Zuma (AP)

President Jacob Zuma (AP)

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The ANC parliamentary supremo Jackson Mthembu says that it no longer matters whether the motion of no confidence against Zuma is voted upon in secret or in the open, ANC members will not support the motion against Zuma. 

Mthembu was giving his last press conference on the matter on Friday, making it clear that it would be senseless for ANC MPs to vote in a way that would hurt the ANC as a party in power. 

The truth is that indeed it would be very difficult for ANC MPs to punish Zuma without punishing the ANC as well. (Take into consideration that Mthembu and other ANC MPs were earlier excitable about the idea of teaming up with the opposition and voting Zuma out.) 

While ANC MPs have protected Zuma all along, this time they are saying that voting against the motion of no confidence does not necessarily mean that they support him, it only means that they do not want to hurt the ANC. 

Thus, the ANC MPs are going to do the same thing they have always done in Parliament when confronted with the opposition led motion of no confidence in Zuma; however they will be doing it for a different reason this time; to protect the ANC or whatever is left of the party. 

What Mthembu and his caucus want us to believe is that this time their reasoning is rather different and nobler than it was in previous cases. This is a very worrying reasoning coming from the ANC caucus leader in Parliament.  

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe has also been beating the same drum in recent days, emphasising that ANC members should not be angry to a point where they punish their own so as to appease the opposition parties.   

The position of the ANC caucus on the motion is also an attempt to negotiate with Zuma; a strategy to give him a lifeline until December while making it clear that all is on condition that he quietly leaves after the elective conference of the party where the new leader will be elected. 

This is a monumentally naïve position and those who are pushing it seek to present the picture that it was not Zuma’s fault that his political fortunes have become intertwined with the survival of the ANC as a party. But all of this is by design and the chief architect is Zuma. 

For a long time some of us have been saying that there will come a point where Zuma’s political survival will be too closely linked with the ANC’s survival so that any action against him will be interpreted as action against the party. 

This is exactly the dilemma that is presented by the motion of no confidence in Zuma. ANC members have allowed the situation to get to this point, and now they will have to save Zuma whether they like it or not. 

If the ANC MPs vote Zuma out they will have to live with the reality of going into early elections which could take place in about a month. Of all political parties making noise around the motion, only the DA will most likely gain from early elections as the party can quickly activate its effective campaign machinery and prepare for elections. 

The DA has the advantage of having been the opposition for a long time which means that the party really knows how to campaign for elections. Pushed to the corner and operating in a tight time frame, the ANC will not cope with early elections. 

If Zuma goes, the ANC will be too much in tatters to go straight into elections and perform well. If Zuma is out this week, then the ANC will have to firstly go into their elective conference to elect a leader who will take them into elections. 

All this has to be done within a month or weeks after Zuma is fired. The squabbling within the ANC will give the DA ample time to prepare for elections while the ANC still clears the question as to who should be blamed for taking Zuma down. 

Therefore, ANC MPs now have a real situation at hand: Zuma is the ANC and there is no way to deal with him without hurting the ANC. 

However, the ANC could bite the bullet and carry out the amputation and remove Zuma from the ANC; the party would hurt but it would most likely heal and be ready for a brighter future. 

ANC MPs are searching for a win-win scenario regarding how to deal with Zuma, but that scenario is mathematically impossible at this point. There is just no way of dealing with Zuma without hurting the ANC. 

Doing nothing about it will hurt the ANC even more. 

- 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  |  secret ballot  |  anc


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