POLITICS

State Capture, Guptas Loom Large In No Confidence Debate

The debate got off to a lively start.

08/08/2017 15:31 SAST | Updated 08/08/2017 17:03 SAST
REUTERS
Anti-Zuma protesters and members of South Africa's ultra-left Economic Freedom Fighters party (EFF), march ahead of the vote of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma, in Pretoria, South Africa August 8, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The sacking of Pravin Gordhan, the Gupta family and state capture loomed large over the debate on the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday afternoon.

Mmusi Maimane kicked off proceedings with a strong showing, turning the words of senior leaders of the ANC on itself, quoting fired ministers Pravin Gordhan and Derek Hanekom, deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and Blade Nzimande, general-secretary of the South African Communist Party (SACP). Maimane added that outspoken ANC MP Makhosi Khoza's expected "yes" vote is the "ultimate service to South Africa".

Maimane also quoted former ANC leader and head of state Nelson Mandela and implored those on the government benches to vote for "hope not fear".

***

Doris Dlakude, the ANC's deputy chief whip, also used the legacy of Mandela to further her argument, saying nobody is perfect. "I am not a saint, unless you consider me a sinner who keeps on trying," she said. Although she said the ANC welcomes the Speaker's decision to conduct the vote in secret "there is an inherent danger in secrecy". She accused the opposition of trying to "usurp" power and to "manipulate" Parliament. This will "sow the seeds of destruction", she added.

***

Leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, Julius Malema, showed the dearth of leadership talent on the side of the ANC, at one stage preferring to refer to Zuma as "Duduzane's corrupt father". The motion isn't tabled against the ANC, but against "Duduzane's father", he said. Malema, a striking figure in his red overalls, lambasted the ANC for not mending its ways after last year's municipal election. "You said 'we should have acted' after Nkandla, you said 'we'll do better' after the election. But you have degenerated further!"

Malema emphasised the ANC isn't the target. "We are rising against the Guptas, those that appoint the boards of Eskom, Transnet, Prasa, SAA and the SABC", he insisted.

***

Bantu Holomisa, leader of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), who brought the application to force the secret ballot in the Constitutional Court, called Zuma the chief architect of state capture. ANC MP Pule Mabe had a difficult time defending Zuma, arguing -- to loud jeers -- that the ANC and Zuma has "led the charge" against corruption and have agreed to a commission of inquiry. "But bring evidence, not hearsay."

***

Mosiuoa Lekota, leader of Congress of the People (Cope) and a former national chairperson of the ANC, recalled his time on Robben Island alongside Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Govan Mbeki and the commitment he made to fight for justice. "I have not broken that promise," he told the National Assembly.

***

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the minister of defence and military veterans, declared she will vote "to defend the ANC" and added public representatives can only be "hired and fired" at election time.

***

Themba Godi, leader of the African People's Convention and chairperson of parliament's standing committee on public accounts, said his party will support the motion. "We support good governance, we're against corruption and we support social transformation. We protest corruption, maladministration and thievery."

***

Minister of arts and culture Nathi Mthethwa was the final ANC speaker, but angled his speech on a defective "unipolar world" where "regime change" is engineered by an "oppressive global hegemony", of which this motion is an example. He also quoted Mandela, recalling how the former ANC leader described the Democratic Party - the DA's forerunner - as "a party of white bosses and black stooges".

***

Maimane concluded the debate by holding up a copy of the Constitution and emphasising that the motion is not about effecting "regime change". "Speaker after speaker married the ANC with the president . . . the ANC is a shadow of its glorious self not because of members on the opposition side, but thanks to Zuma."

He referred to Mthethwa and said the motion wasn't tabled "by one particular race" but "by labour, religious groupings, South Africans black and white . . ."

"I will quote a former leader (of the DA)! Helen Suzman once said: 'There is a chill running through this parliament and its looking for a spine!' Vote with courage!"