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No Confidence: ANC’s diversion-spin goes into overdri...

South Africa

South Africa, Politics

No Confidence: ANC’s diversion-spin goes into overdrive for Zuma, again

While the result of the vote on a DA motion of no confidence in President Zuma in the National Assembly on Thursday was predictable in its failure, what did emerge more fully during the heated debate is the ANC counter-narrative that those opposed to President Zuma were somehow working towards “regime change” and were opposed to the President’s project of “economic transformation”. Addresses by Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane and Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba served more to deflect attention from the damaging political fallout of the President’s serial transgressions and offences. By MARIANNE THAMM.

The DA’s second motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma this year was defeated in the National Assembly on Thursday with 214 nays, 126 yeas, one abstention and 58 MPs not voting at all. This time around, ANC heavyweights who did not vote included Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi, Speaker Baleka Mbete as well as former chief whip Mathole Motshekga.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

While the outcome of the vote was expected, opposition MPs used the occasion to politically hang, draw and quarter President Jacob Zuma with EFF MP Floyd Shivambu mauling the ANC leader and those who do his bidding, dramatically suggesting at one point that the President was not beyond killing even those in his own party.

He is going to arrest all of you,” said Shivambu, sweeping his arm in the direction of ANC MPs “he is going to kill you. He is going to put you in prison”. Shivambu’s warning was met with howls of horror and disapproval from the benches of ruling party members.

Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Lechesa Tsenoli, rebuked Shivambu, saying his comments were a “serious violation”.

Photo: Floyd Shivambu, member of parliament for the Economic Freedom Fighters speaks during a Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma debate in the parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, 10 November 2016. EPA/NIC BOTHMA

Still Shivambu did not hold back, lumping President Zuma alongside a rogue’s gallery of post-colonial African dictators including Equatorial Guinea’s Obiang Mbasogo, Cameroon’s Paul Biya, Burkino Faso’s Blaise Compaoré, Nigeria’s General Sani Abacha, Angola’s Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, Uganda’s Idi Amin Dada and Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko.

Shivambu said the reason Africa was referred to as the “dark continent is because we have post-colonial disasters, thugs, criminals who by coincidence, accident, or by design, found themselves occupying the highest political office in their land”.

The common feature of all of these dictators, he said, was that they sought to enrich their families, undermine the rule of law, had no regard for the Constitution and persecuted and prosecuted their political opponents “including of the political parties they come from”.

It was all sounding horrifyingly familiar considering the year-long, fruitless hounding of Minster Pravin Gordhan by the Hawks and the NPA. Shivambu no doubt was hoping to appeal to ANC MPs to make use of this occasion to get rid of Zuma or risk facing dire consequences in future. Maybe not real death but a metaphorical death of the once grand old ANC.

Shivambu concluded with a flourish that “when everything else has failed, they kill. They assassinate their opponents. That is what we are faced with here in South Africa. Of a political post-colonial disaster called Mr Jacob Zuma.”

Photo: Mmusi Maimane, the leader of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance speaks during a Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma debate in the parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, 10 November 2016. EPA/NIC BOTHMA

DA leader Mmusi Maimane on the other hand opted for an Mbeki/Mandela/Martin Luther King sort of mash-up with his “this is South Africa, a land of contrasts where hope overcomes fear, where light shines through the dark, where good triumphs over evil. This is South Africa where every generation faces its own struggle. The fight against colonialism, the fight apartheid, we have overcome these struggles, we can overcome everything. This is South Africa, a place of reconciliation and forgiveness where one man spent 27 years in prison so that we could all be free. He remains our moral icon. This is South African a place of unimaginable beauty and extreme deprivation…. the country we will die for.”

It was a decent speech but not one that found much traction amid the noise and the heat in the house. MPs were ready to clash, bare-fisted, which is what the Minister of Water Affairs and Sanitation did earlier when she took the floor, singing President Zuma’s praises, saying Maimane was a “blackface leader”. The insults and arse licking were an unsophisticated theatrical performance aimed at detracting from the real issue of the horrors revealed in the State of Capture report, none of which Mokonyane thought to mention.

Photo: Nomvula Mokonyane, Minister of Water and Sanitation speaks during a Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma debate in the parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, 10 November 2016. EPA/NIC BOTHMA

It was Mokonyane, however, who set the ball rolling with regard to the now growing fightback spin in the ANC that President Zuma’s relationship with the Gupta family is actually all about economic transformation that was being thwarted by WMC, WMD, WFF, the CIA, FBI, DA, EFF and whatever other abbreviation you can stuff into a sockpuppet.

It was left, however, to Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba to plumb the intellectual depths of Jacob Zuma’s special economic project and its benefits to South Africa.

The truth is that there is a bitter struggle in South Africa between the former oppressors and those whom they had oppressed, for the right and power to determine the political direction of this country as well as the ownership of its economic resources,” said Gigaba, the man who replaced Minister of Public Enterprises Barbara Hogan in a Cabinet reshuffle in 2010 when MP Vyjtie Mentor had turned down the Guptas who had allegedly offered her the ministry in exchange for the SAA route to India.

Gigaba tossed in a bit of history, the Anglo-Boer War, quoted Lenin ironically on “self-deception” (earlier Mokonyane had referred to “self-correction”) and referred to the 1953 CIA intervention in Iran (although Gigaba mistakenly said it was 1951) after Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh’s decision to nationalise the country’s oil reserves costed him his job.

Accordingly, the fight today, as it was in the past and will be tomorrow, is not merely a fight about the person of President Zuma, whilst it may ostensibly seem so, but it is ultimately about the ultimate control of the economic fortunes of this country and her political destiny.”

That, dear reader, is a spin cycle on steroids. But wait, there is more.

Gigaba spoke then like a man seized by a great moment in history.

In our case, our extensive mineral wealth, BRICS and the prospective nuclear power station in South Africa lie at the heart of the regime-change offensive we are subjected to. Accepting this agenda and not opposing it to the very death will be our biggest folly. As one member of the Cuban Five said during their trial in the US, refusing to cower and cringe in front of the imperialist repressive machine, so we too repeat after him that: Here, on this soil, we stand with our robust souls! [italics are Gigaba’s] There will be no retreat; there will be no surrender from us!”

Certainly one for the scrapbooks.

The notion of state capture, as former Treasury researcher and political analyst Ralph Mathegka points out in his timely book When Zuma Goes, is certainly not new and was presided over by former President Thabo Mbeki.

However, his [Mbeki’s] style of engaging with the public did not push the ANC into the defensive about who was attempting to capture the state and for what purpose. Mbeki himself would probably have pointed out that the state was already subject to capture from foreign and white capital. Thus Mbeki would defend his project not as state capture but as the freeing of the state from the control of interest groups.”

Under Zuma’s leadership, however, writes Mathegka, “it has become clear that the state is being captured to further the interests of his family and his friends, including the Gupta family.”

The notion of state capture has preoccupied the ANC and its alliance partners, says Mathegka, to the point where it has blinded them to the reality that the ANC itself can be subject to capture.

On Thursday the SACP released a statement to “all ANC members of the National Assembly” stating that the party expected the ANC parliamentary caucus to vote unanimously against “yet another DA Motion of No Confidence in President Zuma. The SACP supports this position.

The context in which the DA has tabled today’s motion is, of course, the Public Protector’s State of Capture report. In opposing the DA motion it is important to appreciate the broader public reality, the deep concern of our own core constituencies about corruption and the dangers of corporate capture. In particular, there is a widespread conviction that the Gupta family has exercised a deeply corrosive effect on our constitutional democracy. The SACP has been a forthright critic of these realities over an extended period.
The reasons for voting against the DA motion today, and the posture that the ANC adopts in so doing, are therefore extremely important. Any suspicion that the ANC is trying to cover up matters will further dent the moral standing of the ANC and therefore our broader Alliance.”

The DA’s motion was, said the SACP, premature and in effect “disrespects the Public Protector’s report. It is common cause that, while the report raises many troubling and convincing issues, it makes no substantive findings of wrongdoing against any individual or entity.”

The party continued that contrary to the “obvious agenda of the DA”, which did not expect victory, the vote presented the ANC “with the opportunity of regaining some moral high ground – provided, of course, that the reasons for arguing that the motion is premature are correctly argued and on a principled basis”.

None of that happened in the house. Instead, those ANC MPs who rose to speak did so to defend President Jacob Zuma and his very own idea of economic transformation for a narrow elite, friend, family, himself and of course the true SA’s No 1 family, the Guptas.

There was not a peep about the billions wasted, lost, stolen and redirected under President Zuma’s watch and the effect of this on the country and its citizens.

The heightened tension in the house with regard to a “secret ballot” was an indication of an ANC caucus divided but whipped nicely into line.

If you are so sure of your numbers, why are you afraid?” asked Shivambu.

Of course, earlier in the day President Zuma himself had made certain to pop in at a pre-vote caucus meeting just to remind everyone who is still Number One. DM

Main photo: Malusi Gigaba, the Minister of Home Affairs speaks during a Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma debate in the parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, 10 November 2016. EPA/NIC BOTHMA

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