Only a 'bewitched' party will vote against own decisions - Mthembu

2017-05-30 20:55
ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu (Leon Sadiki, City Press)

ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu (Leon Sadiki, City Press)

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Cape Town - Only a "bewitched" party would vote against its own decisions, thereby removing its own president and government, ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu said on Tuesday.

"It is very surprising that ANC members are expected to vote against their own decisions. It is only a bewitched party that would do so," he said during Parliament's budget vote debate in the National Assembly. It came against the backdrop of the looming motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma.

He said other parties' constitutions require their MPs to abide by the decisions of their caucuses. He accused the opposition of doublespeak, hypocrisy, and undermining the party political electoral system.

Deputy DA Chief Whip Mike Waters said his party's constitution allows its members to vote according to their conscience, and a motion of no confidence in the president is such an occasion.

EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu said the ANC was "bewitched".

"It is only a bewitched political party that outsources its duties to the Gupta family. It is a bewitched political party that trains an individual for seven days and steals resources of the state for just one weekend. That is witchcraft," he said.

"Witchcraft is when the [ANC] top six contradict each other publicly. A bewitched political party is one that has a standing motion of no confidence against its own president."

The Constitutional Court is still deciding if MPs should be allowed to vote in the motion of no confidence in a secret ballot. The UDM brought the application.

On courts and budget 

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete spent a large part of her budget vote talking about the separation of powers between Parliament, the executive, and the judiciary, which was enshrined in the Constitution.

Parliament and its structures were well-placed to resolve issues without having to invite the courts to “encroach on our constitutionally-protected terrain”.

Mbete said Parliament’s presiding officers – which include herself and National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise - supported Mthembu's suggestion for an ad hoc committee to investigate political party funding. The aim would be to seek more public funding for political parties and make private funding for parties more transparent.

It was essential for Parliament to deepen its oversight role, Mbete said.

"You don't really believe that, do you?" interjected DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen.

In its ruling in the Nkandla saga handed down in March 2016, the Constitutional Court was critical of the way Parliament failed to exercise oversight.

Mbete said Parliament's budget was inadequate. It had asked for R2.9bn, but only got R2.2bn.

"The budget of Parliament, an arm of state, can't be determined the same way as a government department," she said.

"First grow the economy!" interjected DA MP Pieter van Dalen.

"There can be no strong democracy without a strong Parliament," Mbete continued.

Towards the end of her speech, EFF MP Natasha Louw remarked: "This is a boring speech." 

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  eff  |  baleka mbete  |  jackson mthembu

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