Cape Town - The ANC's decision to discipline MPs who publicly admitted to having voted for the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma, is a desperate attempt to show it still controls its members, struggle stalwart Ben Turok has said.
ANC headquarters Luthuli House was making one mistake after the other and had lost control of the party, the former ANC MP said in an interview with News24.
"After the vote, they felt they had to do something to maintain discipline. So they made the biggest blunder in the history of the ANC. They've now charged Pravin Gordhan," he said.
"To charge him is the most foolish thing that Luthuli House could do and it's only a symptom of their desperation. They don't know how to handle the situation. They’re at a loss and they're making mistakes, one after another."
Turok, who while still a MP in 2012 was disciplined for walking out of the vote on the controversial Secrecy Bill, said it came as a surprise to him that so many ANC MPs voted for the no confidence motion. He believed it could happen again.
"On the Secrecy Bill there were lots of ANC MPs who agreed with me, but they were not willing to vote against it. You don't do that kind of thing in the ANC. You toe the line.
"Because of long loyalty, it's not a party that you leave easily or abstain easily. So 42 is, by far, less than the number of MPs that would like to defect. Luthuli House must be really concerned that the real defection is really much bigger," he said.
About 40 ANC MPs supported the motion.
'Poor state of affairs'
The struggle stalwart said it was a sad state of affairs that factional battles in the ANC had started to affect Parliament's oversight function.
Public Service and Administration Minister Faith Muthambi and five other ANC MPs on Tuesday refused to attend a portfolio committee meeting where she would have been asked to account for alleged misuse of funds.
ANC MP Makhosi Khoza, a Zuma critic, chaired the meeting. The MPs cited her ill-discipline in the vote of no confidence as the reason for not attending.
"This kind of incident with Muthambi, if it happened five years ago, she would be called to account by the leader of the House and the chief whip and asked, 'what are you doing bringing Parliament into disrepute?'. Now, people are getting away with this kind of behaviour and it’s symptomatic of a very poor state of affairs," Turok said.
Those who hoped the ANC’s elective conference in December would fix the party's problems, would be disappointed.
"The country is rudderless and December can’t fix it, because the crisis is too deep."