NEWS

Removing Zuma Makes No Sense, ANC MPs Say

'The president only has four months left in office.'

04/08/2017 12:22 SAST | Updated 04/08/2017 12:26 SAST
Mike Hutchings / Reuters
REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Voting out President Jacob Zuma makes no sense because a new party president will be elected in December at the ANC's national conference in December, some of its MPs have told HuffPost SA.

"The president only has four months left in office," an ANC MP, who did not want to be named, said.

"The ANC has taken a resolution that the president of the ANC and the president of South Africa must be one in the same. That resolution should be effected after December."

Meanwhile, the party's parliamentary chief whip Jackson Mthembu on Friday told the media in Cape Town that removing Zuma was not in the interest of South Africa.

MPs who spoke to HUffPost SA ahead of Mthembu's briefing asked to remain anonymous in fear of reprisal.

One member said there was "general nervousness" among members regarding the vote of no confidence because of its timing – as December was around the corner.

"We read the papers, we can see that South Africans are calling for MPs to vote with their conscience," he said.

"It is a difficult decision because we were chosen to represent the interests of the ANC in parliament and that is our mandate. But, with all the allegations in the public domain it becomes a conflicting debate."

He said voting Zuma out next week will "only worsen" the political and economic atmosphere in South Africa.

"When (former Finance ministers) Pravin Gordhan, Nhlanhla Nene and (deputy) Mcebisi Jonas were removed, you can argue that the ramifications were endless.

"Imagine now if the president is removed along with his entire cabinet and replaced for a few months and then changed again when a new president is elected. Imagine what that will do to an already unstable economy."

Another ANC MP said Zuma's Cabinet ministers would not want to "lose their livelihoods" over the outcome of the vote.

"You must remember that there are factions in the ANC, so everyone will have a different view about Zuma. Some may side with him and some may not. His cabinet is elected by him so of course they would toe the party line," he said.

"The secretary general (Gwede Mantashe) and others have also publicly said they will come after members who vote with the opposition. Come December, regardless of the outcome of this vote, a new president will be elected in the party. I do not think 100 ANC members will vote with the opposition."

Bantu Holomisa, leader of the United Democratic Movement, who has been at the forefront of the application for a vote of no confidence, said it had not heard back from Speaker Baleka Mbete's office on when she would be announcing her decision on a secret ballot.

The ruling party has 249 MPs in the national assembly, while opposition parties have 151 seats in the house.

This means that more than 100 members of the ANC would have to vote against Zuma for the motion to pass. That's only if all the opposition support it unanimously.

If the president is removed, he would then not be entitled to any benefits of the office and could never work for government again.