Close call for ‘Teflon man’

A relieved President Jacob Zuma addresses supporters after the vote
Picture: REUTERS

Zuma survives again despite mutiny by some ANC MPs

Enough ANC MPs stuck by President Jacob Zuma to help him survive yet another parliamentary vote of no confidence yesterday, despite a “mutiny” by almost 30 of its MPs.

The motion brought by the opposition needed to secure 201 of the 400 votes in parliament to succeed, but fell short with 177 votes, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete announced.

A total of 198 MPs voted against it, with nine abstensions.

If Zuma had lost, he would have been forced to resign along with his entire cabinet.

He has now survived eight motions of no confidence in his leadership. However, this was the first one with secret balloting.

“The party will spin this as a win, but it’s a weak victory,” independent analyst Daniel Silke said, after at least 26 of the 249 ANC MPs voted to oust the president.

“There are marked signs of a rebellion within the ANC. It will perpetuate the factional infighting after a relatively close vote. There was a relatively substantial mutiny.”

The ANC parliamentary party celebrated victory over what it described as an attempted “soft coup”.

“It has been the publicly stated intention of the opposition to sow seeds of chaos in society to ultimately grab power,” the party said.

Several opposition parties led thousands of anti-Zuma protesters outside the national assembly before the vote, while supporters of the president held a rival march.

“Today’s motion of no confidence result is closer than anyone expected,” DA leader Mmusi Maimane said, hailing the “brave” ANC MPs who had voted against Zuma.

“Jacob Zuma is the manifestation of what the ANC has become – a toxic mix of corruption, cronyism and nepotism.”

He said while he was disappointed that the motion did not carry, he believed it was a sign that Zuma should resign as his own caucus had been shown to be divided.

EFF leader Julius Malema said the numbers were a positive sign that the tide was turning. “We have had seven motions of no confidence before where we have not got one vote [from the ANC].”

He said even the nine abstentions were a positive step. “When your own people abstain instead of voting for you, they are passing a motion of no confidence in you.”

Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said: “This is an excellent result and I am very happy.”

UDM president Bantu Holomisa said South Africans had been shown the middle finger by ANC MPs.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, speaking to ANC supporters at the gates of parliament shortly after the results were announced‚ said Zuma was going nowhere.

“Asijiki‚ we are not going to be told Zuma must go – if he must go, he will be removed by us as the ANC. “We have defeated the useless motion. “We can’t dance to Mmusi Maimane and all the small boys and girls.”

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said his focus was not on the numbers but on the fact that they had defeated the motion.

“To us that’s the most important thing – we were confident that we’re going to defeat this thing.

“Yes, there might be some members of the ANC who might have voted with the opposition but, for now, the most important aspect is that this vote of no confidence has been defeated – the ANC MPs have not sold out to the DA or the opposition.

“All these other things are things that we will look at, study them, study the maths of who was here and then take it from there, but it has never been the DNA of the ANC to be punitive.

“If I was still drinking, I would say I am going to get a bottle, but I am no longer drinking so I must go and get some bottle of water or juice.”

An elated Zuma told a crowd of ANC supporters outside the gates of parliament on Plein Street in Cape Town that the ANC could not be defeated through “technicalities” in parliament.

The embattled president was in a celebratory mood and hugged party leaders as he took to the makeshift stage where he thanked them for supporting the ANC.

“Thank you very much indeed. Comrades, I want to thank all the leaders that are here that come from different provinces.

“Those comrades who’re in parliament needed the support from membership and supporters.

“You demonstrated that the ANC is there, is powerful, is big, it’s difficult to defeat the ANC – you can try,” Zuma said.

He said the opposition refused to learn as yesterday marked the eighth time they had tried to remove him through a parliamentary motion.

“They always try. They don’t learn that you can’t touch the ANC even if you don’t love it. They can talk. They can analyse on TV 24 hours a day, they can never change the ANC.”

Zuma said he found certain interpretations of the country’s constitution rather odd. Mbete granted the secret ballot in a motion of no confidence for the first time in the history of the democratic parliament following an order by the Constitutional Court that she has the discretion to decide on its voting procedure.

But Zuma said he did not believe that such technicalities should be used to oust him and his cabinet from office.

“The interpretation of some of the things are interesting,” he said.

“The ANC was voted [in] by the overwhelming majority of the country. No party has ever received such a number.

“Now they believe they could use technicalities in parliament to take over the majority in parliament. “We represent the majority in the public.” Meanwhile, Maimane said the party would pursue their case against Zuma in court in September as well as the impending impeachment proceedings as their next move, but the focus now was on the 2019 election.

“The sooner we get to a general election the better.

“The sooner we can get rid of the ANC, the better,” he said.

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