South Africa MPs to defy ANC over Zuma no-confidence vote

Friday July 14 2017

South Africa President Jacob Zuma. FILE PHOTO |

South Africa President Jacob Zuma. FILE PHOTO | MUJAHID SAFODIEN | AFP 

By PETER DUBE
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Disgruntled South Africa Communist Party (SACP) lawmakers have hinted they will not vote to keep President Jacob Zuma in power as he faces his fifth no-confidence motion next month.

SACP, an affiliate party of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), said it would now not endorse "wrong things" come August 8.

"All SACP MPs are ANC MPs so they are bound to be guided by what the ANC says, but at the same time we are members of the SACP. We can't just blindly walk into a situation where we are being asked to endorse wrong things," said Blade Nzimande, the party's leader, on the sidelines of its 14th National Congress.

The debate around the fifth motion of no-confidence follows President Zuma's controversial Cabinet reshuffle that saw the exit of respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan in March. The President has also been facing mounting pressure over corruption scandals and his handling of the economy.

"We can’t be protecting corruption and be protecting irrational decision making by the President," said the newly appointed SACP deputy secretary-general Solly Mapaila.

Not quitting Cabinet

Mr Nzimande said he had confidential engagements with President Zuma over a number of issues on behalf of the SACP.

The SACP leader, who also serves as South Africa's Minister of Higher Education, said the party's members in Cabinet would continue with their mandate despite calls for them to quit in order to put more pressure on Mr Zuma. 

The president has survived previous no-confidence motions due to strong backing by ANC lawmakers, who form a majority. The ruling party has told its MPs to toe the line and vote against the motion.

Of the 249 ruling party legislators, 17 belong to SACP.

For the motion to succeed, 201 of the 400 MPs must vote against the President to have him step down.

Submissions

Meanwhile, political parties represented in Parliament have until the close of business on Friday to make submissions on how they want the vote of no-confidence to be conducted.

Opposition parties in Parliament have said they do not want the Speaker of the National Assembly‚ Baleka Mbete‚ to preside over the debate because she is "patently biased" and "conflicted".

Led by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Democratic Alliance (DA), the parties issued a joint statement after holding a meeting following Ms Mbete's remarks at an ANC policy conference recently.

"We note her instructions to the ANC MPs to vote in favour of their President; the Speaker is patently biased and therefore compromised. She cannot preside over the debate," the joint statement read.