Twenty-five ANC MPs who committed to voting out President Jacob Zuma during August’s motion of no confidence in his presidency, pulled out at the 11th hour.
This was revealed by Makhosi Khoza, former ANC MP and founder of the newly-launched political party, African Democratic Change (ADeC)
Speaking at a dinner hosted by the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business in conjunction with Nedbank in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday, Khoza said a total of 60 ANC MPs had agreed to vote Zuma out.
“A few hours before the motion of no confidence debate, something happened. ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe arrived and called all ANC MPs to a meeting where he told us that we should realise that Parliament would be dissolved if Zuma was voted out,” she said.
If Parliament were to be dissolved there was no guarantee that current MPs would be returned in the next Parliament, Mantashe said.
“You have to understand that most of the MPs are dependent on the salary they get as parliamentarians, they have families to support. They simply could not do it.
“They voted against the motion, not because of cowardice, but because of their family responsibilities,” she said.
In the end, about 35 ANC MPs out of the 60 who had initially bought into the idea of booting Zuma out, voted in favour of the motion, which was tabled by the Democratic Alliance.
Khoza was one of the ruling party parliamentarians who had campaigned for Zuma’s removal.
The anti-Zuma campaign within the ANC caucus saw him narrowly surviving the August motion of no confidence.
Following a tense secret ballot voting process, 198 MPs voted against while 177 voted for.
“If it were not for Gwede, we would have made history on that day,” Khoza said.
Corruption allegations levelled against Zuma coupled to his axing of former Finance minister Pravin Gordhan, had contributed to anti-Zuma sentiments within the ANC caucus.
Gordhan’s removal as well as perception of the general mismanagement of the economy, led to rating agencies downgrading the country.
While some of the MPs who were involved in the anti-Zuma campaign have since channelled their efforts into getting deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa elected party leader, Khoza does not see Ramaphosa as a solution.
“Remember he is being helped by organisations such as the South African Communist Party (SACP) and Cosatu. These organisations will not allow him to just do things his own way, they will want to be rewarded for helping him to become president,” she said.
Khoza resigned as ANC MP in September after facing a barrage of death threats for her anti-Zuma stance.
Tuesday’s dinner was attended by captains of industry from around Pietermaritzburg.
Some of the attendees wanted to know why Khoza had not waited until the ANC elective conference before leaving the ruling party.
Khoza was adamant that the timing of her departure was spot on.
“I could have done that but the threats kept on coming and in the end I felt it would be safer to just leave. I also did not want people to think that I’m leaving the ANC after not being elected to positions at the conference,” she said.
Khoza, who hails from Pietermaritzburg, joined the ANC at the age of 12.