ANC issues final warning to its MPs: Vote against Zuma and we’ll expel you

The ANC leadership has issued its final warning to MPs who vote for a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma – they could face expulsion from the governing party.

The vote is expected on Tuesday afternoon as thousands of people across the country protest in support of the motion, appealing for Zuma to be removed.

The ANC’s parliamentary caucus met earlier on Tuesday with Zuma, his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa and the party’s secretary general, Gwede Mantashe.

Despite the no confidence vote in Zuma being held by secret ballot, the party maintains it will defeat the attempt to remove the president.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the meeting was held to issue a final warning to ANC MPs considering voting with the opposition, that they could face expulsion.

“There have been a number of municipalities where councillors of the ANC voted with the opposition to remove a mayor of the ANC. We had to deal with those cases, some of them have been expelled from the ANC,” Kodwa told the Mail & Guardian. “Because it’s unheard of that you vote with the opposition to betray the very same mandate that brought you to be in the council.” 

A few hundred Democratic Alliance supporters and members of Save South Africa have gathered outside the gates of Parliament in Cape Town, calling on ANC MPs to vote with the opposition to remove Zuma as head of state.

Holding posters that read “Fire Zuma” and “Zuma Must Fall”, the protesters started gathering from 9am in front of a mobile stage where the DA’s provincial leaders, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, Save SA leader Sipho Pityana and South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi addressed them.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane told the protestors that “the crime that Jacob Zuma has committed is not only that he is a servant of the Guptas”.

He said the secret ballot was necessary because Zuma “picked bad ministers then he pays them to vote with him”.

“How can one person hold the destiny of 50 million people to ransom?” Maimane asked.

EFF members also staged a march to Parliament, joining the DA and Freedom Front Plus protesters ahead of the vote.

Pityana said: “Our country is on a path to destruction. This great inheritance from our leaders, Nelson Mandela, is being driven to hell by one person. Why would you let that happen? We count on each and every member of parliament today to do the right thing.” 

Vavi added: “We have come to say to members of parliament, to say  for the sake of all us as South Africans, ask the president to step down between now and two o’clock. And if he doesn’t do so by two o’clock, please vote against him and say goodbye, thank you for nothing!” 

The EFF commander-in-chief thanked the protesters for “putting your political differences aside and protecting our country”.

“We are going inside now, we are going to fight … All members of Parliament must vote in protection of the Constitution, in protection of this country. If they vote for Zuma, even in secret, you must know the problem is not Zuma, it’s all these criminals which are found in this Parliament, and they call themselves honourable members,” Malema said.

“Once they vote with Zuma, they cease to be honourable, they are fellow criminals with Zuma.” 

The EFF leader also vowed that if the motion of no confidence fails, his party would go to court to have him impeached.

“We promise you we will do everything in our power to remove this man, even if we fail today, we will still meet him in the Constitutional Court because he still has a case of impeachment to answer … He will never have a peaceful sleep. The only time he will have a peaceful sleep is when he resigns and goes back to Nkandla to look after cattle,” Malema said.

Only a few hundred metres away, ANC supporters and members of the party’s Dullah Omar region are gathering at the grand parade to show support for the president.

Inside the parliamentary precinct, military police and South African Police Service officers’  canine unit are patrolling the area while a group of ANC members sang Zuma’s praises.

The ANC has described the no-confidence motion as “frivolous” and “vexatious”, but outside, civil society and opposition parties’ supporters appear confident it will succeed. 

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Govan Whittles

Govan Whittles is a general news and political multimedia journalist at the Mail & Guardian. Born in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, he cut his teeth as a radio journalist at Primedia Broadcasting. He produced two documentaries and one short film for the Walter Sisulu University, and enjoys writing about grassroots issues, national politics, identity, heritage and hip-hop culture.

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