Gwede Mantashe made a last ditch effort to whip the African National Congress' (ANC) caucus into line during an extraordinary caucus meeting on Tuesday morning, telling them the party will not hesitate to dismiss MP's that vote in support of the motion of no confidence.
The ANC's secretary-general was joined in the old House of Assembly by President Jacob Zuma, who according to sources looked "relaxed" and "confident". He arrived late. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa also attended the meeting. Zuma did not address MP's. Jackson Mthembu, the ANC's chief whip, gave a rundown of events before Mantashe spoke. MP's broke into song before proceedings started, bringing homage to former ANC president Oliver Tambo.
"No comment" - Dr Makhosi Khoza. pic.twitter.com/jFrpnMOVGf— Scapegoat (@AndiMakinana) August 8, 2017
Mantashe told MP's the motion tabled by Mmusi Maimane, leader of the Democratic Alliance was not about removing "one man" but rather about forcing the ANC out of government. He told MP's if the motion succeeds the ANC will be in crisis because "everyone understands" the party will struggle to agree on an interim president.
He told MP's "in no uncertain terms", according to one MP who attended the meeting, that if a snap election is called when the ANC can't agree on a president "all MP's would lose their seats".
Addressing concerns around state capture and corruption, Mantashe said the party had taken a very strong position on the matters and that internal processes are underway to deal with it. "We have dismissed municipal councillors who have in the pas voted against the party line. We won't hesitate in doing it here (parliament)," he said according to a source that was present.
According to Mantashe if the motion succeeds it could be "the beginning of the end" and lead to the "destruction" of the party.
It is unclear whether Pravin Gordhan, the ousted minister of finance, was there. Baleka Mbete, the speaker, did not attend the meeting. Mantashe apparently added that he "respects" the views of ANC MP's who were vocal about their opposition to the president, but that he believes they will "do the right thing".
Rumours in caucus allege that Mbete did not inform the ANC's top leadership before her bombshell decision to conduct the ballot in secret, but that she did notify Zuma beforehand.
The National Assembly convenes at 14:00.