Motlanthe ‘wanted no confidence vote’

2012-11-18 10:00
Sabelo Ndlangisa and Mmanaledi Mataboge
Deputy president supported opposition’s stance on Zuma

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe wanted the opposition’s call for a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma to be tabled before Parliament.

Motlanthe expressed the view that the matter be put to a secret ballot on Wednesday at the meeting of the ANC’s political committee, which he chairs in his capacity as leader of government business in Parliament, but his suggestion was rejected by the ANC’s Parliamentary caucus.

Opposition parties are now taking Parliamentary Speaker Max Sisulu and ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga to the Western Cape High Court over the decision not to allow the matter to be debated and put to a vote in the National Assembly.

The opposition needs a simple majority to pass the motion.

Motlanthe’s spokesperson Thabo Masebe refused to comment on the matter as it was a parliamentary, rather than a government, issue.

Motshekga confirmed that the deputy president had suggested the matter be discussed in Parliament during a meeting of the ANC’s political committee on which Motshekga, Sisulu and Motlanthe sit.

Motlanthe’s proposal might be used against him politically if he challenges Zuma for the ANC’s presidency in Mangaung next month.

“That’s not a good signal for the forces for change (at) Mangaung. It means their candidate doesn’t have influence. And also this thing that he supported the opposition’s motion will be used against him,” said a parliamentary source.

However, according to Motshekga, the debate in the caucus was not a sign of disunity.

“Contrary to suggestions, the ANC is very united. People confuse preferences for candidates (in Mangaung) with disunity.

“If we didn’t have different preferences, it would mean that our internal democracy is dead, and that would lead to the death of the organisation itself.”

Motshekga said the motion had been rejected because it was “not genuine, not innocent, but is part of an onslaught on the ANC itself and the ANC-led government”.

He said: “But now they are using the president as an entry point. This thing has nothing to do with any wrongdoing on the part of the president. That’s why ANC members in Parliament unanimously rejected that motion.”

Motshekga confirmed that MP Lumka Yengeni wanted the issue to be handled differently, but said she eventually accepted the collective decision of the caucus when it said the matter should not be debated in Parliament.

Motlanthe’s view was echoed by Yengeni, but did not get support at the party’s caucus meeting.

One MP said: “Lumka stood up and said if we are ANC cadres, why are we scared of the opposition. Lumka was saying isiqhela kakubi iDA (the DA takes us for granted), we’ll defend Zuma.”

ANC caucus spokesperson Moloto Mothapo confirmed that Yengeni favoured a secret ballot on the  no-confidence motion, but defended her motive.

Mothapo said: “Lumka was not saying let it be debated because she wants the president to be attacked or probed by Parliament. She was just saying the ANC should not be seen as running away from debates. She said this should be seen as an opportunity to rally behind the president.”

Yengeni could not be reached for comment.

Motshekga told City Press the ANC would oppose the DA’s court action, which seeks to get the court to order Parliament to table the motion for debate.

“Our view is that the opposition wants to use the court to micro-manage Parliament,” he said.