POLITICS

Jackson Mthembu's 'Scare Tactics' Show He's Worried About Some MPs Turning On Zuma -- Analyst

'Voting to remove Zuma would be tantamount to throwing a nuclear bomb at the country,' says Mthembu.

04/08/2017 13:49 SAST | Updated 04/08/2017 14:33 SAST
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ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu's suggestion that an economic and political crisis would follow if President Jacob Zuma was ousted reveals he may not have full confidence that he can reign in all ANC MPs next week, political analyst Daniel Silke said on Friday.

"What is perhaps more interesting ... is the very fact he (Mthembu) needs to use this kind of scare tactic, perhaps indicating he doesn't have a full degree of confidence that he can achieve his job [as Chief Whip] which is to keep all MPs on board," Silke told HuffPost SA.

At a briefing in Parliament, Mthembu said removing Zuma at a vote of no confidence on August 8 would be "tantamount to throwing a nuclear bomb at this country".

"It will plunge our country into complete political instability and economic uncertainty,"

Mthembu warned of severe long-lasting ramifications and a "collapse in government" if the ANC leader was sacked, and forecast that the country would be pushed into a recession.

Silke said Mthembu's comments were an indication of a degree of insecurity from him as the party's chief whip.

Economist Mike Schussler told HuffPost SA the country was "already in an economic recession because of non-leadership in the economy".

Whether Zuma is ousted or not does not "make any difference to the economy," he said.

"I think if he were to go it may in fact help the economy somewhat."

'ANC MPs turning on Zuma is 'wishful thinking''

In Mthembu's televised briefing, he rubbished reports as "rumours" and "wishful thinking" that some ANC members would vote in favour of the motion of no confidence against Zuma.

"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."

Silke believed the former ANC spin doctor was relying on "some substantial scare tactics in order to reign in some of his more wayward MPs who may be contemplating voting for the DA's motion".

He said a vote to remove a head of state would cause a crisis in any government.

"But I think one has to distinguish between what is a crisis for the ANC and a crisis in terms of governance."

Silke said Zuma had four months left as party president and unhappy MPs were prepared to wait until the national conference in December rather than participate in a vote of no confidence.

"Even though they want change, they will bite the bullet on this and would rather see the internal processes of the party... being the conduit for change," he said.

"This would be preferential for the ANC MPs who would prefer to avoid disruption to their own careers and the cohesiveness of the party if this should support a vote now."