President Jacob Zuma says African National Congress Members of Parliament voting with opposition parties in an attempt to have him removed as South Africa's first citizen put the ANC into serious disrepute.
Quoting the ANC's constitution and at times asking the party's members who had attended the ANC Free State cadres' forum for their opinion, Zuma on Saturday gave some insights into what he felt needed to happen to MPs who failed to toe the party line as instructed by ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe.
On Tuesday August 8 the ANC managed to defeat the eighth motion of no confidence against Zuma by a narrow margin.
They had 198 votes against the motion, while nine people abstained from the secret ballot and the opposition got 177 votes, 151 members of the opposition managed to get 177 votes through the assistance of some in the ANC caucus.
"You decide to use your conscience. Unheard of, you were sent there [to Parliament] by the ANC," said Zuma of those in the ANC benches who sided with the opposition.
He answered several questions from the floor, most of which were centred on the August 8 motion and called for the president to take some kind of action against the rebellious MPs.
The president in trying to paint a picture of the state of the party in the lead up to the motion of no confidence said some had made public utterances but that the party had attempted to correct their views and to remind them that they represented the ANC's position on matters in the National Assembly.
He said millions who had voted for the governing party found themselves on a "knife's edge" on Tuesday.
"Anything could have happened," said Zuma.
The president said he would meet with ANC officials on Monday for their regular meeting.
This will also be the first such gathering since his close shave in the motion of no confidence. Zuma said he would raise the issue with the ANC's top six in his capacity as president of the party.
"The ANC was put into serious disrepute on August 8," said the president.
Reading out sections of the ANC's constitution before asking the audience what must be done, Zuma said: "A serious offence shall be committed by any member acting on behalf or in collaboration with a political organisation or party other than an organisation or party in an alliance with the ANC."
"You must act," said some in the crowd when he told them the recommendation for such behaviour was disciplinary procedures.
He added that he would not only raise the matter, but propose ideas on how to deal with it. He said this was his way of taking responsibility for the matter as president of the ANC.
"This is about the ANC. I don't think the ANC can be ridiculed like that in public," said Zuma.
The president when responding to a question posed by a member of the ANC Youth League in the province on whether or not it was time for him to have a Cabinet reshuffle, said it was no longer a question but something to consider.
The South African Communist Party's Blade Nzimande, who is also part of Zuma's executive has been one of his most vocal critics, spearheading a call from the SACP for the president to step down.
"There was a question that was posed; it's no longer a question. It's a proposal," said Zuma.
Zuma who when he started responding to questions told those gathered at the event that he had hoped to speak to them about the balance of forces and the land question. He found a way to link his recent close shave with the state of some of the Brics countries.
"We need to understand what is happening. Otherwise we will find ourselves hunting with the wrong hunters," warned Zuma.
"You are correct to be concerned about what happened in Parliament. It could easily lead to a Brazil situation," he said urging for members to stop it.
He took a moment to complain about the country's constitutional democracy, claiming that those who wrote the Constitution might have wittingly or unwittingly given South Africa's opposition parties an outlet when defeated on issues in Parliament.
Zuma accused them of dragging the ANC to court on matters that could not be won in court.
"Those who oppose us know they will never win an election, no matter how many times [so they] use the courts to erode and destabilise our democracy," said the president. -- News24