POLITICS

'A Big No': Opposition Politicians Rubbish DA's Plan To Dissolve Parliament

The DA's controversial proposal has caused a break in the ranks of opposition to Zuma's ANC.

10/08/2017 09:21 SAST | Updated 10/08/2017 09:21 SAST
Photo: Mark Wessels / Reuters / Pool
Opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party leader Mmusi Maimane speaks during the motion of no confidence against South African president Jacob Zuma in parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, August 8, 2017.

Two opposition party leaders have emphatically dismissed the Democratic Alliance's call for Parliament to be dissolved to pave the way for early elections.

Leaders of Cope and the UDM, Mosiuoa Lekota and Bantu Holomisa, on Wednesday tweeted their opposition to the plan following months of solidarity with the DA in its bid to remove President Jacob Zuma.

Following the failure to pass the motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma in Parliament on Tuesday, Maimane said dissolving the National Assembly would be the "most appropriate way to ensure a legitimate government is in place".

It called on ANC MPs who oppose state capture and corruption to join opposition parties who are "coming together to fight the evil of corruption".

However, the opposition is not united on the DA's motion.

In a response to a question posted on social media whether the leaders "share the DA's plan", Lekota tweeted "Absolutely not", while Holomisa said, "A big no".

Meanwhile, EFF leader Julius Malema called on the DA to "stop bluffing", saying they did not need a motion as the party's 89 members could dissolve Parliament on their own. He said if the EFF had more than 51 members, "we were gonna [sic] do it alone".

The DA's National Spokesperson Phumzile van Damme rejected Malema's call, saying the resignation of opposition MPs would mean there is no one to hold the ANC accountable.

Van Damme posted the view of constitutional law expert Lawson Naidoo, executive secretary for the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, in which he explains why the opposition does not have the power to dissolve Parliament by resigning en masse.

In the opinion piece on eNCA.com in March, Naidoo said, "Even if [the EFF were to resign] in collaboration with the Democratic Alliance, it would still leave the majority party, the ANC, and the other parties with sufficient numbers to constitute a quorum and perform the tasks of the National Assembly, except perhaps where a special two-thirds majority might be required."

He said Parliament only needs a third of MPs present to function and 50% to pass legislation, both of which could be achieved even if both the DA and EFF quit Parliament.

Section 50 of the South African Constitution supports Maimane's view that as long as three years have passed since the previous general election, a new Parliament could be elected. However, dissolution would require a majority of MPs to vote in favour of this motion which, again, is unlikely to happen given the ANC's numerical dominance, he said.

Meanwhile, the ANC on Wednesday said the DA's announcement to dissolve Parliament less than 24 hours after President Zuma's win "confirms the correctness of the ANC in voting against [the] motion".

"This move by the DA exposes what the ANC has always stated, that the motion of no confidence in President Zuma is not about the President but an attempt at regime change through parliament," the party said.