South Africa’s ruling party, the ANC, on Tuesday comfortably defeated a motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma brought by the leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA).
Following a fiery debate in the National Assembly in which most opposition parties called for Zuma’s head, 225 MPs voted against the motion, while 99 voted for and 22 MPs abstained.
Opening the debate, DA leader Mmusi Maimane labelled Zuma a “sell-out” – a term often used by ANC MPs when heckling the opposition party’s first black leader.
“The ANC of today call us sell-outs, but they don’t see that, slowly but surely, the people of South Africa are beginning to realise who the real sell-outs are,” said Maimane.
“Because a sell-out is a person who puts his own interests before the struggle of his people, a person who secures an advantage for himself in other people’s suffering.”
Maimane cited Zuma’s run-ins with the law as reasons he should be removed from office.
“Jacob Zuma sold out when, as deputy president, he took a R500 000 bribe from Schabir Shaik. He sold out when he recalled a sitting state president who stood in his way of absolute power,” he said.
“Jacob Zuma sold out when he manipulated the National Prosecuting Authority to drop charges on 738 counts of corruption, bribery, money laundering and racketeering against him.”
ANC MPs interjected insisting Maimane be warned to refer to Zuma as “honourable” or “his excellency”.
Maimane ignored the warnings, and referred to Zuma without any prefixes.
South Africa’s second largest opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, abstained from the vote and the debate. It said in a statement earlier in the day it believed such a motion required substance and a judgement from the highest court in the land.
Former ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga, now chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice, was called in to hit back at the opposition, referring to the motion by the opposition as a dirty trick – something he said was often used by the apartheid regime against its detractors.
“Honourable pastor Maimane, the new testament says only the truth will save you. Please tell the truth because the noise that you make here has to do with your anger and frustration at the achievements of the African National Congress,” said Motshekga.
“Honourable pastor Maimane, apartheid used dirty tricks to mislead the nation and you are doing the same…”
Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who has served as an MP since 1994, took his turn at the podium to bemoan the fact that “again and again the ruling party has always used its majority to shut down debate”.
Buthelezi also made reference to his warning when Thabo Mbeki was ousted as President that “what goes around comes around”, and expressed disappointment in Zuma whom he said had “failed our country and the ANC”.
ANC MP Pule Mabe described the motion as a “mere dress rehearsal to test if the ANC’s majority can be shaken”, and said it was a “war on the principle of majoritarianism” from an opposition who unsuccessfully attempted to “throw the President under the bus”.
Other opposition parties also took aim at Zuma – highlighting his reported links with the influential Gupta family, the millions in taxpayers money spent on his Nkandla private homestead in KwaZulu-Natal, and previously dismissed criminal charges against him as reasons that he should be removed from office.
But despite repeated calls by opposition parties to ANC MPs to “vote with their conscience”, the ruling party representatives backed their president, with small business development minister Lindiwe Zulu listing Zuma’s struggle credentials, and insisting that smaller parties were bringing the motions of no confidence “because of their own failure at the ballot box”. – African News Agency (ANA)