Ahead of this afternoon’s motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma, final comments were given by both the ANC and opposition parties on why MPs should vote to keep Zuma in power as president of the country or vote him out.
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said that he never thought he would be fighting a different kind of oppression, after taking part in the struggle of apartheid during the 1980s in Soweto, where he grew up.
“If you had told me that one day our democratically elected president would end up corrupted and captured by a criminal syndicate, I would never have believed you,” Maimane told members of the National Assembly.
Maimane acknowledged the influence that the Gupta family had had on state affairs, in particular the close relationship that Zuma and the Guptas shared.
“The choice we face today is simple. Will we allow one family, aided and abetted by our president, to take everything we have from us?” he asked.
Maimane quoted former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, who has been outspoken about Zuma.
“We are encouraged by the words of former minister Gordhan when he says: “I think the president should move aside and let somebody take over this country and reset the course‚ so that we can fulfil the kind of aspirations that Mandela and his generation had for South Africa.
“The question is, Honourable Gordhan, will you play your part in resetting our course today?” he said.
Economic Freedom Fighter leader Julius Malema echoed Maimane’s sentiments, saying that they were “rising against the power put into a family of foreigners”.
He urged fellow MPs to vote with their conscience.
“Stop misleading yourself. Your vote is secret,” Malema said.
Malema also brought up the issue of Nkandla, Zuma’s private home located in Kwa-Zulu Natal. About R246 million was spent on renovations to the Nkandla homestead – funded from the public purse.
“I want to say to the comrades in the ANC: we warned you about Nkandla and you did not listen to us when we spoke about Nkandla. In 2016 you lost some of the metros and your response was [that] you could have handled this matter differently, and you committed that you were going to improve after those outcomes,” Malema said.
He said that since then, there hadn’t been a single improvement surrounding the issue of Nkandla.
Deputy Chief Whip of the ANC, Dorris Eunice Dlakude, welcomed the decision by National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete for a secret ballot and went into the debate calling the Democratic Alliance “hypocrites”.
“It is the same hypocrisy that votes in defence of its Western Cape leader yet expects the ANC to vote otherwise,” Dlakude said, referencing the allegations of racism which Western Cape Premier Helen Zille was accused of after her alleged racist tweet.
Security was tight around Parliament and the streets of Cape Town’s CBD came to a standstill as protestors took to the streets both in support and against the vote.