South Africa’s ANC rallies lawmakers to oppose vote of no-confidence on Zuma

South Africa President, Jacob Zuma. AFP PHOTO / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN
South Africa President, Jacob Zuma. AFP PHOTO / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, ANC, rallied behind President Jacob Zuma on Friday, saying its lawmakers would have to be “bewitched” to vote for a no-confidence motion to remove the scandal-prone leader.

Parliament is due to vote on Tuesday.

Zuma, 75, has suffered a string of judicial and political setbacks since he took office in 2009, but has held on to power with the backing of his party, which dominates parliament.

In July, South Africa’s top court ruled that secret ballots may be held for motions of no confidence if the speaker of parliament so decides.

Zuma’s critics want the no-confidence vote brought by the main opposition Democratic Alliance party to be anonymous, hoping it will embolden ANC lawmakers to support his removal by shielding them from pressure from other party members.

ANC parliamentary Chief Whip, Jackson Mthembu, said the party would vote as a bloc against the motion.

“We cannot, with our eyes open, assist our nemesis to remove the government from power.

“It’s only a bewitched party that would do so.

“Nobody in his right mind will do so,” Mthembu told a news conference in Cape Town.

A motion of no confidence requires a simple majority to pass, in this case 201 votes out of the 400-member parliament.

If the motion succeeds Zuma who has survived eight previous motions of no-confidence and his entire cabinet would have to step down.

Mthembu said voting for the motion would be “tantamount to throwing a nuclear bomb on ourselves” that would unleash political and economic hardships in the country.

Africa’s most industrialised economy has sunk into recession and had its credit rating downgraded to junk by two of the three main credit rating agencies.

Unemployment is at a 14-year high of 27.7 per cent and business confidence is sagging.

Mthembu accused Julius Malema, a former protege of Zuma who now leads the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters party, of wishful thinking for saying more than 60 ANC members in parliament will back the no-confidence vote.

“I’ve seen and heard other party leaders saying that there are about 60 MPs of the ANC who will be putting their vote in the positive bloc.

“We are saying there is no such,” Mthembu said.

NAN reports that Baleka Mbete, Speaker of the South African National Assembly, on Thursday said, she would “do the right thing” on whether to allow a secret ballot that could oust Zuma.

The country’s top court in June ruled that secret ballots may be held for motions of no confidence in parliament, but did not order one, leaving the decision to Mbete.

Zuma’s critics want a no-confidence vote in Zuma to be anonymous hoping it will embolden lawmakers from his African National Congress party to support his ouster by shielding them from pressure.

The Zuma administration has been beset by scandals and criticised for failing to address serious economic problems.

Mbete was non-committal after the Constitutional Court ruling, simply noting that she now had the right to decide.

On Thursday, the New Age reported Mbete as promising to “apply her mind judiciously” and “do the right thing”.

“What I am willing to say to the people of South Africa, as members of parliament … trust us,” Mbete said.

A motion of no confidence requires a simple majority to pass, in this case 201 votes out of the 400-member parliament.

(Reuters/NAN)


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