The ANC must never allow current irritations to blind us to act in a manner that destroys everything we have built over the past 23 years. By ANC Chief Whip JACKSON MTHEMBU.
The ANC Caucus felt it important to clarity why the ANC will be voting against this DA-sponsored motion to remove the President of the Republic of South Africa. This coming motion has generated much debate and public interest hence we saw it desirable to upfront clarity our stance on this motion and respond to pronouncements by the opposition on this matter.
First and foremost, we are not blind to the grievances raised by our people including our partners in the Tripartite Alliance about the state of affairs in government. The cabinet reshuffle; the country’s downgrading to junk investment status; the leaked emails regarding the notorious Gupta family influence on government and state capture have been raised as serious and legitimate concerns.
The Unburdening Report by the South African Council of Churches (SACC), The No Room to Hide dossier by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), the Betrayal of the Promise report by the State Capacity Research Project and the Public Protectors’ State of Capture report have rightfully caused much anxiety and displeasure in society. As the ANC, we share this discomfort and anger at these revelations which are continuously unfolding in the public domain.
The ANC Caucus shares the same aspirations of the people of South Africa. Concerned South Africans must know that they have an ally in the ANC Caucus and not an enemy. As the ANC we intervened on the crisis affecting the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) resulting in the removal of the board and the appointment of an interim board. The interim board is currently working to ensure that stability and good governance is restored at the public broadcaster.
We equally intervened in Eskom resulting in the rescinding of the reappointment of the former Group Chief Executive Officer Brian Molefe after he had resigned following his involvement in allegations of state capture. Parliament is currently conducting an inquiry into Eskom of which we are confident will result in those found of any wrong doing being taken to task. Other portfolio committees where allegations of wrong doing have surfaced have also been directed to leave no stone unturned in uncovering those responsible and proposing corrective measures inclusive of recovering monies siphoned fraudulently and the institution of criminal proceedings.
The ANC also raised its discomfort around the removal and replacement of former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene which caused serious financial turbulence. Our intervention led to the appointment of the now former Finance Minister Comrade Pravin Gordhan. Though the recent cabinet reshuffle resulted in the removal of Gordhan, his replacement was a subject of intervention by the ANC after various media speculations that Molefe, who is a subject of the Public Protector’s State of Capture report, would be appointed as a replacement. We are raising these issues to show that the ANC has been responsive to these matters.
Therefore, we fully agree that all matters of public concern and cause of distress must be attended to as a matter of urgency. Further investigation from all arms of the state including the judiciary must be conducted to unearth how we got to where we are and who is responsible as the remedial action of the Public Protector directed in her report. Those found guilty of wrong doing must face consequences including prosecution. Therefore the immediate appointment of a judicial commission of inquiry is of extreme urgency.
We must never allow our current irritations to blind us to act in a manner that destroys everything we have built over the past 23 years as a young democracy. Voting in favour of this motion will be tantamount to throwing a nuclear bomb at our country. The removal of the President will have disastrous consequences that can only have a negative impact on the people of South Africa.
It will result in the entire cabinet having to resign which will lead to a collapse in government which will have deep and long lasting ramifications. It will plunge our country into complete political instability and economic uncertainty. This will inadvertently negatively affect the poor and the working class the most as they are dependent on government for their livelihoods. Instead of solving our problems, we would be doing more harm to our country.
This will also set precedence where opposition parties can use parliament, provincial legislatures and municipal councils to remove a democratically elected government outside of general elections.
Therefore, the removal of the president in parliament is simply not in the best interest of our country. We must not seek easy and short sighted solutions to difficult political problems. This motion is a political ploy by our political nemesis with the sole intention of maximising their own political gains at the expense of the country.
ANC members of parliament are an advanced cadreship of the ANC. They will not with their eyes open cause the weakening of the state in favour of the opposition. As activists, we will not be part of actions that will bring our country to a brink of collapse.
Our decision to vote against this motion must therefore not be seen as defending or protecting any individual. We are protecting our country and our hard fought democracy. The claim that seeks to say that not voting with the opposition would be injudicious is very much misguided. In fact, it would be injudicious for ANC MPs to vote with the opposition in collapsing our country. Our actions must not be informed by incumbent personalities but rather what is in the best interest of the country.
We are also protecting our electoral system which places the political authority to deploy members of parliament in the respective political parties who contested elections. Thus all members of parliament from all political parties take their mandate from their political parties. ANC MPs should not be expected to be different from this legal and well established political norm.
In delivering the Constitutional Court judgment on whether the upcoming motion should be by secret ballot or not, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said “the appropriateness of a voting procedure for that motion is particularly important since our electoral system is structured in such a way that it is, broadly speaking, a party but not a Member of Parliament that gets voted into Parliament. A political party virtually determines who goes to Parliament and who is no longer allowed to represent it in Parliament…”
The Chief Justice further went on to quote the Certificate Case where paragraph 77 states:
“…Under a list system of proportional representation, it is parties that the electorate votes for, and parties which must be accountable to the electorate.….”
South Africa’s electoral system is not a presidential system where a president is voted for as an individual but rather the party that wins elections deploys its presidential candidate. In the same way the party would deploy its members as MPs as well as members of cabinet. It is therefore unthinkable that members who are deployed by a party as MPs would usurp the authority of the party that deployed them and remove another member deployed as a President at the behest of our political adversaries.
It is very hypocritical of the opposition to want ANC members of parliament to defy their party mandate when they do not allow such in their own parties. The DA suspended six councillors in the City of Cape Town for defying the party mandate on who to vote for at a sub council meeting in November last year. The DA makes their members of the provincial legislature in the Western Cape sign written allegiance to always follow the party mandate. The EFF is instituting disciplinary action against councillors who defied their party mandate in voting for the passing of the budget in Mogale City while the DA forced their councillors to take lie-detector tests to unearth a councillor who voted in favour of the removal of a DA mayor in the same municipality.
The rumour that there are ANC members who will vote in favour of this motion is nothing but wishful thinking on the part of the opposition. We will vote against this motion because it is a crude and populist attempt to unseat a popularly elected government. This motion will be defeated irrespective of whether it is by open or secret ballot. ANC members of Parliament can never be participants in the demise of their own government and their own organisation. DM
Jackson Mthembu is ANC chief parliamentary whip
Photo: We will vote against this motion because it is a crude and populist attempt to unseat a popularly elected government, says ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu.