Lobbyists in the parliamentary caucus of the ANC were on Monday night frantically crunching the numbers ahead of Tuesday afternoon's historic vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.
STATE OF PLAY: THE "YES" VOTE
There seems to have been a surge of enthusiasm among certain sectors of the caucus to support the motion to dismiss Zuma as head of state after Speaker of parliament, Baleka Mbete, decided the vote would be conducted by secret ballot. Supporters of deputy president Cyril Rampahosa, who believe removing Zuma now and replacing him with Ramaphosa will give him an unassailable lead in the leadership race, were planning to do a tally at midnight on Monday night to see exactly how much support they still need.
STATE OF PLAY: THE "NO" VOTE
However, based on HuffPost SA's enquiries among a number of MPs, two of which acted as lobbyists for the "yes" vote and one for the "no" vote, it seems that Zuma still commands hefty support. "There is simply too much hype, a lot of it encouraged by the media. The ANC have started its own internal processes to deal with issues that anger many people. The motion will not pass. We know some are itching, but we will deal with them after the vote. Party discipline will carry us through," a lobbyist for the "no" vote said.
The caucus, according to some lobbyists for the "yes" vote, is roughly split between a large chunk of immovable Zuma supporters (45 per cent), ardent opponents (20 per cent) and the rest (35 per cent) that could fall either way.
This is how it stacks up:
- There are 249 ANC MPs and 151 opposition MPs in the National Assembly, with 201 votes needed for the motion of no confidence to be carried.
- The ANC has two vacanacies, which leaves 247 MPs. The expectation is that nine opposition MPs (three from the African Independent Congress and six from the National Freedom Party) will align with the governing party. The ANC has access to the support of 256 MPs.
ANC = 256 Opposition = 0
- The opposition have 151 votes, but will lose the nine seats that will go to the ANC. That leaves them with 142 votes. Now it's on.
ANC = 256 Opposition = 142
- The opposition have their own troubles though. The DA has 89 seats, but only have 88 filled with one MP booked off sick. That leaves 87 DA votes. The EFF has 25 seats and the rest of the smaller parties – bar the African Independent Congress and the National Freedom Party – has 28 seats. Will the EFF be able to whip their MP's into line? Will everybody vote? For argument's sake, let's say yes.
ANC = 256 Opposition = 140
- Four ANC MP's have indicated that they will vote against the president: Pravin Gordhan, Makhosi Khoza, Derek Hanekom and Mondli Gungubele. There are roughly 36 MPs who are memebers of the South African Communist Party (SACP). If the SACP MPs agree with their leadership, that means more losses.
ANC = 216 Opposition 180
- There are two vacancies on the ANC side and at least one on the DA's side of the aisle. That means there are 397 votes to be cast. The one sick DA MP doesn't count. The threshold to have the motion carried remains 201 votes.
ANC = 216 Opposition 180
- If the opposition can muster every single vote available to it plus the four known ANC rebels plus the estimated 36 SACP MPs cast their vote in support of the motion, the opposition would need 21 ANCs MP's to vote with them.
ANC = 216 Opposition 180
- The magic number seems to 21.
ANC = 195 Opposition = 201
COULD THIS REALLY HAPPEN?
Supporters of the "yes" vote on Monday night said they were buoyed by the speaker's decision to allow for a secret vote. Three MPs on that side of the divide said frustration with and anger towards Zuma has increased dramatically over the last six to 12 months. "Lobbying is frantic. Everybody operated on the expectation that the ballot would be open. Now all of a sudden it will be secret, which changes the whole game. Zuma might already be yesterday's news." Those opposed to the motion say the country will be plunged into crisis if the motion is successful and that an appeal to reason will be made to those MPs threatening to vote with the opposition.
SUPPORTERS OF THE "YES" VOTE ARE SAYING:
- "It really could go either way."
- "Caucus is meeting at 10:00. Zuma supporters will make the case that it is inconceivable for the ANC to be led by the nose by the opposition."
- "Both the Constitutional Court and the Powers and Privileges of Parliamant Act protects us now. Nobody may prescribe of force MPs to vote a certain way."
- "The intimidation by Gwede [Mantashe] and Jackson [Mthembu] have given the speaker the space to heed the Constitutional Court's judgement."
- "The lobbying is intense."
- "This not about the person, it is about the country... there is a bigger picture."
SUPPORTERS OF THE "NO" VOTE ARE SAYING:
- "The ANC has to defend itself."
- "There is too much hype, much created by the media."
- "It's only three or four disgruntled MP's... PG you can understand, Mondli as well, he was mayor in Ekhuruleni after all... "
- "We have started our own processes to deal with what is wrong in the ANC."
- "The speaker has confidence in the caucus, we have confidence in the caucus... the motion sure as hell won't be carried."