POLITICS
28/05/2017 14:36 SAST | Updated 29/05/2017 18:33 SAST

Motion Of No Confidence: What Does It Mean For Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma?

“Jacob Zuma’s supporters are on the defensive and are on the retreat.”

The presidential race has been cracked wide open after a fissured ANC National Executive Committee motioned for another vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma yesterday.

The clock is now ticking for the president and the ramifications of this for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's campaign will be immense. Cyril Ramaphosa, however, will have a lot to smile about.

These are some of the topics political analysts deliberated over when speaking to the HuffPost SA earlier.

News24 reported yesterday that at least four sources with direct knowledge of events inside the closed NEC meeting this weekend confirmed to News24 that African National Congress policy guru and NEC member Joel Netshitenzhe tabled a motion for Zuma to step down.

Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi, his deputy Joe Phaahla and axed tourism minister Derek Hanekom reportedly spoke out in support of Netshitenzhe's motion.

The meeting is continuing today.

Zuma and the NEC split

Political scientist at the University of Western Cape, Keith Gottschalk, said what is significant is that it is now the second time Zuma's opponents have, within six months, battled to get him to step down.

Gottschalk said South Africans can now anticipate motions of no confidence to be tabled in at least half of the future ANC NEC meetings.

"Zuma's supporters are on the defensive and are on the retreat," Gottschalk said.

"The motion of no confidence again mocks the president's reputation and gives encouragement to his opponents to keep fighting."

Wits University's Daryl Glaser said although he can only speculate on the outcome of this weekend's meeting, what is certainly clear is that the ANC NEC is divided and that anti-Zuma supporters are gaining strength. But whether a tipping point has been reached is still to be determined.

Glaser said the motion of no confidence is one of the developments on several fronts that are putting pressure on Zuma.

"One way or the other, if the vote goes against Zuma, it will be the end of him politically," Glaser said.

What now for our presidential hopefuls?

Glaser said Dlamini-Zuma is currently facing "political damage", and her public profile and image has gone through a "remarkable rise and fall since her return from the African Union".

He said when Dlamini-Zuma returned, she was seen as the person who was almost certain to take over from her ex-husband and has since been campaigning confidently.

"But she (Dlamini-Zuma) came out so explicitly in every respect in support of Zuma's position on issues like Radical Economic Transformation and White Monopoly Capital. She bought into it completely and this caused her to become closely associated to Zuma," Glaser said.

"Before then, she was seen as a serious politician, manager and plausible president. But now she is seen as an appendage of the Zuma camp."

Glaser said Ramaphosa's fortunes however, especially after this weekend, will have improved.

"As Zuma's position weakens, Ramaphosa seems to be the candidate of the two who is much more distinct from Zuma. He will remain a vital candidate for many but these things remain unpredictable".

Gottschalk shared a similar sentiment, saying Dlamini-Zuma is "fatally tainted" by association with Zuma.

"She would have needed to have taken both symbolic and substantive actions to demonstrate her independence from him (Zuma). She could have reverted to her original surname or she could have, in her speeches, explicitly condemned corruption; but she has done none of these things," Gottschalk said.

"It looks to me that increasingly, the race for Zuma's succession is becoming wide open with Zuma's faction in disarray and in retreat."

If Zuma goes, what then for the economy?

Economist Mike Schussler said Zuma's leave from the presidency may be a good thing for South Africa's finances.

"Everyone knows people view Zuma as a liability for the country and if he loses out, it would be good for the country, good for the Rand and good for interest rates going forward. But it won't change the ratings immediately. That will depend on who takes over," Schussler said.

"He said investors, locals and small business owners may view South Africa in a more "positive light".