The ANC says Lindiwe Mazibuko's warning of impeachment against President Jacob Zuma is nothing more than a rhetorical threat.
The ANC on Wednesday dismissed Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko's warning to President Jacob Zuma as an empty, rhetorical threat.
"We are aware that, with the election looming, some political leaders will blow plenty of hot air at every direction in order to grab as many headlines as possible," ANC chief whip Stone Sizani said in a statement. "There are opposition parties in Parliament who have offered the electorate no alternative or creative ideas since 2009, except to repeatedly call for the president of the country to resign."
On Tuesday, Mazibuko vowed to table a motion to impeach Zuma if the public protector's report on his private homestead in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, implicated him in wrongdoing.
Speaking in the National Assembly during debate on Zuma's State of the Nation address on Tuesday, she told MPs she wanted to deliver a very clear message on the Nkandla "scandal", which involved over R206-million of public money.
"I want to use this opportunity to send a very clear message to our honourable members, that should the honourable president be involved in any wrongdoing in the public protector's report on the Nkandla scandal, I will not hesitate to table a motion to impeach him in this House," she said.
Pressure on public protector
Sizani on Wednesday claimed Mazibuko's comments were designed to pressure the public protector to find Zuma guilty.
"While certain opposition parties have clearly demonstrated that they exist for no other reason except to engage in a negative and anti-Zuma campaign, as the ANC we will continue to celebrate with the people our achievements and our practical plan to move South African forward beyond the 2014 election," he said.
Mazibuko also said on Tuesday she could not guarantee opposition parties would win such an impeachment vote, but millions of South Africans would be calling on MPs to do the right thing.
"They know the real story, that our country cannot afford another five years of President Zuma's administration."
Earlier, Mazibuko said Zuma should have resigned the moment the story broke that more than R200-million of public money was spent on upgrades to his private home at Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.
She told the House that the past five years of Zuma's "poor leadership" had reversed much of the progress South Africa had made up to 2009.
On unemployment, Mazibuko said there were 1.4-million more jobless South Africans today than when Zuma took office. She said the country's recent economic record was dismal. "The honourable president blames this on the 2008 global financial crisis, or what he refers to as a 'global meltdown'. But on our very doorstep, sub-Saharan Africa's economic growth forges ahead without us. Nigeria is forecast to overtake South Africa as the largest economy in Africa in the next two years.
"While our economy grew at under 2% last year, our emerging peers like Chile and Malaysia are growing at more than double this rate."
This great disparity was due to economic growth and job creation requiring visionary leadership and a single economic plan. South Africa had neither.
Mazibuko said the country's "vague leadership" provided no incentive for investors, and accused Zuma of putting what was in his interests first. "Political survival always trumps real leadership," she said.
She said police brutality had increased under Zuma's leadership. "This kind of brutality is a relic of the apartheid past. It should never have re-emerged in our young democracy; but under this government's leadership, it has intensified."
She again called on Zuma to fire Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa. "President Zuma ignores the national development plan recommendation to demilitarise the police; he has failed to introduce a proper public order policing policy; and, he refuses to do what he should have done after Marikana more than a year ago, fire the minister of police, honourable Nathi Mthethwa, from his Cabinet."
'South Africa is less happy'
Meanwhile, Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota criticised Zuma, saying the country was ruing the day former president Thabo Mbeki was forced out of office.
"South Africa today is less happy than when President Mbeki was driven out of office," he said at the debate.
Lekota, who served as a minister under Mbeki and broke away from the ANC in 2008 after Mbeki was forced to step down as president, said under Zuma the country had racked up trillions of rands in debt and wasted billions more every year.
"Is it any wonder that township after township in the province you govern are going up in flames?" – Sapa