A whopping 32 ANC MPs stayed away from yesterday’s vote on the heated motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.
This is despite the ANC calling for a three line whip – Parliament jargon for compulsory attendance at a sitting and an instruction to vote in a particular manner.
According to parliamentary papers published last night, 58 MPs did not vote.
The DA motion was still defeated with only 126 MPs voting in favour of the motion and 214 voting against it.
The DA needed 201 MPs to vote in support of its motion for it to carry.
City Press counted 32 ANC names among those who did not vote, although one of them – Zukisa Faku – was removed from her seat in September after being sentenced to three years of house arrest for fraud.
Her name appeared among those who did not vote.
Among senior ANC MPs who did not vote was Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan who did not attend yesterday’s sitting.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and former ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga who have recently spoken out did not vote either. City Press could not establish the reasons why these MPs were not in Parliament.
National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete was also absent.
City Press understands that she is leading a South African delegation to a Southern African Development Community’s parliamentary forum in Zambia.
One of Zuma’s loudest supporters, Kebby Maphatsoe, also missed out on the opportunity to vote against the DA’s motion which wanted the National Assembly to declare that it has no confidence in Zuma as president because “under his irrational, irresponsible and reckless leadership, important institutions of state have been captured by private interests; state resources, notably state security, law enforcement and prosecuting authorities have been mobilised to shield those interests from public scrutiny and investigation”.
The DA’s motion also alleged that Zuma has attempted to evade accountability to the Public Protector and frustrated her efforts to fulfil her constitutional mandate, and that his “derelict leadership has resulted in a collapse of public confidence in the President of the Republic of South Africa, a government at war with itself; and that this ultimately has undermined efforts to restore confidence in the South African economy”.
In his speech, Maimane called on all MPs to unite behind his motion in the interest of the country.
“The choice we make today will determine the future of every South African. Today, we can choose corruption, or we can choose opportunity for all,” said Maimane.
“We can choose to sit back while our state is captured by the greedy and the corrupt, or we can stand up against state capture.
“We can choose to elevate one man above the law, or we can fight for every person to be equal before the law,” he continued.
Maimane said the choice was between allowing one man to enrich himself or help millions free themselves from poverty.
“To put it plainly ... we can choose Jacob Zuma, or we can choose South Africa. That is the choice that each one of us must make today,” said Maimane.
He went on to quote senior ANC MPs who have spoken out against Zuma in recent weeks, including Jackson Mthembu, Mathole Motshekga, Derek Hanekom, Aaron Motsoaledi and Thulas Nxesi.
“It is not often that so many of us agree with each other. Today we have a chance to make this agreement work for our country,” he said.
Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane – a staunch Zuma supporter – charged that by tabling the motion the DA and its allies were seeking to undermine the will of the people and were attempting to distort what the Constitution dictates.
Mokonyane said unlike the DA, the ANC has never cast aspersions or doubts on the integrity of the National Prosecuting Authority even with the serious allegations that have led to the fraud charges that DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach faces.
“This is because the conduct of the individual cannot bring us to undermine the integrity of the institution,” she said.
Mokonyane added: “The motion we are here debating is really a phantom to masquerade the essence and nature of opposition politics in our country and their quest to gain power by means other than the ballot box.”
She said the DA and its allies were continuously presenting motions and issues that seek to undermine our commitment to realise radical economic transformation and the creation of a social order that would benefit the majority of the people and not a politically connected elite few, masquerading as representatives of the people.
“They are trying hard to distract the ANC and the government led by President Zuma from dealing with the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
“These elitist forces emerge, as led by the DA, to advance a protracted onslaught against the president and government on speculations and unfounded sentiments that have no factual standing in law and reality.”
Mokonyane listed Zuma’s achievements since coming into office which include appointing Thuli Madonsela as the public protector, appointing commissions like the Seriti and Farlam commissions and taking their recommendations into consideration.
Mokonyane also told the debate of the 69 proclamations signed by Zuma authorising the Special Investigative Unit to undertake investigations intended to rid the state of corruption where it exists and to verify allegations of such where they arise.
“In the last financial year alone the value of the 307 matters that have been referred to the National Prosecuting Authority for prosecution and the Assets Forfeiture Unit for forfeiture orders is R6.8 billion,” said Mokonyane.
She could not vote against the motion, as she is not an MP.
In his speech, the EFF’s Floyd Shivambu warned that South Africa may follow dictatorships in the continent where presidents looted their countries and then turned on the people.
“The reason why Africa has been referred to as the Dark Continent is because we have post-colonial disasters, criminals who by coincidence find themselves occupying the highest office in the land.” He said Zuma was one of them.
“One of the common features of these people is that they seek to enrich their families, they seek to undermine the rule of law. They have no regard for the Constitution. They prosecute and persecute political opponents including those of the political parties they come from,” he said.
He called on MPs to use the opportunity to get rid of “such a political, post colonial disaster like Zuma” before Zuma turns on them.
The debate was not without drama as opposition MPs fought for a secret vote, with Shivambu the first to raise the matter.
Shivambu said it was basic logic that people who want to vote against the president may feel intimidated to do so in an open vote.
“There is a real fear of victimisation,” argued Shivambu.
He was supported by the smaller minority parties, but the proposal was denied.