ANC MPs have political consciousness and most will do what’s best for the party and country, Daily Maverick’s The Gathering: Media Edition heard on Thursday. But don’t get ahead of yourself. That doesn’t mean enough ANC MPs will vote to boot Zuma out of power on Tuesday. By GREG NICOLSON.
Former tourism minister Derek Hanekom on Thursday confessed it was extremely difficult for many ANC Members of Parliament to vote against the last no confidence motion against President Jacob Zuma. The next motion of no confidence in Parliament is set for Tuesday and Hanekom confidently claimed that over 50% of ANC MPs are worried about the party’s leadership and want to take action.
“For many of us it is just that more difficult to go into that session to vote against this motion of no confidence,” he said. Hanekom said it wouldn’t be wise for ANC MPs to pronounce ahead of the motion which way they will vote, and it still appears unlikely that at least 50 ANC MPs will vote against their president. “When it comes to the vote I’m sure ANC members in Parliament will do what they believe is best for our country and do what they believe is best for our organisation,” he said.
Hanekom, who serves as an ordinary MP after being removed in Zuma’s widespread Cabinet reshuffle in March, said concerned ANC MPs voted against the last no confidence motion in November because they planned to raise their concerns during an ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting shortly after. Zuma has survived multiple no confidence motions, but his support, both inside and outside the ANC, has hit an all-time low.
National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete is expected to announce soon whether the vote will be open or held in secret. If she decides on an open vote, it’s almost certain her decision will be taken on review in court.
Hanekom was speaking from the floor during the last session at Daily Maverick’s The Gathering – Media Edition, which was held on Thursday in Cape Town. His close comrades, former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas, were on stage speaking on state capture, the future of the ANC and the future of the country.
Hanekom was confident that ANC members are in the main inherently good and want the party to return to its original values. They are “deeply disappointed by the leadership of the African National Congress”, he said. “They hate it and they are traumatised when things go so badly wrong.”
On the #GuptaLeaks, Jonas said, “It is very clear that if you read the leaks you actually have a shadow state, effectively.” Many ANC leaders have said they do not know about key decisions or key appointments, such as the list of names Zuma appointed in the recent reshuffle. “That should tell you something about who runs the country.”
On the impact of state capture, Gordhan cited astounding figures. “What number will we attach to the scale of things that are happening? Some are saying that R100-billion has disappeared,” he said.
That’s close to 9% of government expenditure.
“You could double all the social grants with the amount of money that has been taken out of the system.”
Both Jonas and Gordhan pointed out some of South Africa’s biggest problems – low business and consumer confidence, low levels of investment, capital concentration remaining in the hands of the minority, all of which of course entrench poverty, inequality and unemployment. While the state says it wants to tackle the problems, it can’t because it and the ANC lack credibility, said Jonas.
“The problem is: deal with the credibility of the state first and deal with the credibility of the party secondly. Deal with the credibility of leadership in the country.”
Gordhan and Jonas both praised civil society efforts to understand issues of state capture, but said they must be broadened across the country, like those in the 1980s that united to fight apartheid.
Jonas was also critical of ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu. Earlier in the day, Mthembu called on the media to apologise for its role in supporting apartheid. Without acknowledgment and accountability, there’s a lack of trust in the media, said Mthembu. Jonas said he almost jumped out of his seat. Mthembu was calling on the media to be accountable while the ANC refused to act on the allegations he personally and the Gupta leaks exposed.
Pointing out the process of state capture, Gordhan noted leaders who have been targeted and removed. “These weren’t just simple so-called firings and hirings… It was about getting people out of the way at critical points in time in order that they don’t act as obstructions.”
“All public institutions are vulnerable,” warned Jonas. “State capture has no holy cows.”
As Parliament could next week decide Zuma’s fate, Hanekom hit back at the attacks on those who have taken critical stances within the ANC. The party’s Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe this week said the ANC is not a party of “free agents” and those who disagreed with party decisions should “walk”. Outspoken ANC MPs like Makhosi Khoza have been intimidated ahead of the no confidence vote.
Hanekom said it was insulting to suggest members don’t understand the party and aren’t acting in its best interests. He’s been in Parliament since 1994. “It doesn’t matter how many times you say you cannot vote with your conscience. The people who sit in Parliament do have political consciousness.” DM
Photo: Mangaung 17, December 2012. Derek Hannekom at the 53rd conference. Photo Greg Marinovich / Newsfire