No support for DA in Zuma impeachment debate

It appears other parties represented in the national legislature are unwilling to support the DA in Zuma's impeachment. (David Harrison, M&G)

It appears other parties represented in the national legislature are unwilling to support the DA in Zuma's impeachment. (David Harrison, M&G)

While the official opposition is upbeat about this afternoon’s debate at the National Assembly, it appears other parties represented in the national legislature are unwilling to support the Democratic Alliance.

The main reason for the possible isolation of the DA is the view that the party is not sympathetic to continental solidarity, said political analyst Somadoda Fikeni.

The DA brought a motion to impeach Zuma because it blamed his government for allowing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to leave the country despite the North Gauteng High Court ordering that he be prohibited from flying out. 

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity, in relation to the killing of some three hundred thousand citizens in the Darfur region. South Africa, as a signatory to the Rome Statute, was required to detain Bashir when he attended the African Union summit in Johannesburg in June, but the government instead shielded him by giving him immunity.

“Once you raise the Omar al-Bashir issue, the African and Pan African issue stands up,” Fikeni told the Mail & Guardian.

Even Zuma’s biggest enemy Economic Freedom Fighters applauded him for protecting Bashir, signaling that the party is unlikely to vote with the DA.

“Mr President on al-Bashir I am happy you did not arrest him. We were not going to agree on the arrest of an African leader in South Africa, to polarise Africa and make South Africa the enemy of the whole of Africa,” EFF leader Julius Malema said early last month.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the ANC would use its majority numbers to protect Zuma, “but democracy cannot assume that because somebody is in the majority then they should do as they please. Otherwise Parliament will be defeated”.

“It will be a dereliction of duty if we keep quiet when we see someone doing something wrong and say ‘well, they’ve got the numbers’. South Africans at home must be able to see that we are trying something,” he said.

Maimane said the DA and other parties had the responsibility to ensure that the constitution is respected and upheld. But if fellow opposition parties do not vote with the DA, Maimane said “if they want to say black lives don’t matter, it’s okay.”

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) will not vote with the DA on the impeachment motion.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said the DA is welcome to go ahead with its motion without his party’s support. “We are not supporting the DA. The UN and others are out of order,” he said.

Holomisa said the motion to impeach Zuma was just a “hullabaloo” and unnecessary “noise”.

“We are clear from the word go that the United Nations Security Council recommended that Bashir be arrested and prosecuted in the ICC … We said why don’t you arrest Bashir in Darfur where the UN security forces are in Sudan protecting Bashir and his government?,” he said.

The DA said the al-Bashir matter “symbolises the much wider failings of Zuma’s leadership”. Zuma also “led South Africa down a corrupt road to an economic crisis,” Maimane said.

Fikeni said when impeachment is raised repeatedly it loses any chance of ever being successful. “It’s like when you administer the same medication to a non-responsive body, it runs the risk of immunity,” he said.

Fikeni said the DA had a better chance for impeachment when it based it on the Nkandla security upgrades than it did on al-Bashir matter. “Impeachment depends on whether parliamentarians have consensus on the need for such,” he said.

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge is the Mail & Guardian's political editor. Raised in a rural village, she later studied journalism in a township where she fell in love with the medium of radio. This former radio presenter and producer previously worked as a senior politics reporter for the Mail & Guardian, and writes on politics, government, and anything that gives the disadvantaged, poor, and the oppressed a voice.
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