ANC celebrates victory, opposition parties hail close vote in Zuma no-confidence motion
President Jacob Zuma had a narrow escape in the eighth attempt to unseat him, but chief whip Jackson Mthembu says it is too soon to talk of disciplining defiant MPs
While ANC MPs erupted in jubilant songs and dancing and President Jacob Zuma’s supporters rallied outside Parliament on Tuesday night to celebrate his victory in the motion of no confidence against him, opposition parties were unanimous in their sense of victory.
National Assembly speaker Baleta Mbete announced that of the 384 votes cast, 198 had voted against the motion, 177 in favour and nine abstained.
Opposition MPs said this meant that 26 ANC MPs had voted in favour of the motion — despite the intense pressure by the leadership and the caucus on them. They said this was a very significant achievement.
Zuma, visibly subdued by the long day and perhaps surprised by the result, addressed his supporters gathered outside Parliament after the announcement.
He told them the opposition was attempting to take power away from a democratically elected party through the motion.
He thanked MPs who worked hard to protect him from the opposition and said he harboured no ill will towards the ANC MPs that voted against the motion as he had defeated it.
He made a veiled reference to such MPs being "paid a lot of money" but did not elaborate.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane said in an interview outside the National Assembly that the outcome of the vote was “absolutely positive as it signified a shift and a change”.
Far from being discouraged that the motion had been defeated, he was “buoyed” as it demonstrated that Zuma was “a dead president walking”.
The outcome, Maimane said, showed that there were members of the ANC who were not prepared to tolerate what was going on and that there could be bipartisanship in the interests of the country.
“It is clear that there are members of the ANC who stand with us.” A political realignment was necessary. He said the opposition would continue its fight to remove Zuma.
COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota said he was “really thrilled” because of the large number of ANC MPs that had voted with the opposition. “The ANC has shown that even with a secret ballot the majority of the caucus support corruption, support the Guptas.
“This educates the masses to know that the only power that can remove the ANC from power is to vote against the party.”
He said the ANC had in fact not won as the large numbers marching in favour of the motion on the streets had demonstrated.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said the ANC’s victory was a hollow one as the outcome showed that the party was divided. The campaign against Zuma would continue with the court application for his impeachment to proceed in September.
Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald believed that it was significant that so many ANC MPs had not toed the party line. The defeat of the motion, he said, was not unexpected — but it sent a strong message to the people of SA that “it is not Zuma who is the problem it is the ANC which is the problem as it does not want to get rid of corruption. The voters must take note of that for the 2019 elections.”
IFP chief whip Narend Singh said the outcome was a victory for the opposition as the ANC’s numbers had reduced considerably. “The writing is on the wall for them,” he said.
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said the most important thing was that the ANC had defeated the motion. This was the most important focus.
There was no way, he said, that the ANC in Parliament could vote to remove its president and government from power. But work still had to be done to address state capture and move quickly to establish the judicial commission of inquiry.
There were many things within the ANC which would have to be addressed — such as disunity, factionalism and ANC MPs’ concerns about state capture and rampant corruption. “This gives us the opportunity as the ANC to look all these issues in the eye.”
President Jacob Zuma’s supporters outside Parliament celebrated as their leader survived the eighth vote of no confidence against him.
However, it was a slim win for Zuma — with 177 votes yes against 198 votes no, indicating more than 20 ANC MPs voted with the opposition in the first vote of no confidence to take place under secret ballot.
During the ANC rally outside Parliament, speakers called for the ANC MPs who voted in support of the motion to be disciplined and removed.
However, Mthembu told reporters it would be too soon to “jump to disciplining” them.
The rand fell 1% within seconds of the announcement being made.
Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) Chairman Wayne Duvenage said ANC MPs had chosen to put their party ahead of the nation.
He said he would evaluate possible legal action and has called on the ANC to recall Zuma as president within 30 days.
“It’s a vote to perpetuate the decay of our once proud and growing nation. The Constitutional Court rulings and evidence from several reports on state capture show that Jacob Zuma is not fit for public office,” Duvenage said.
The UDM — which was the party that initially approached the Constitutional Court seeking a secret ballot — said in a statement that it accepted the outcome, but was “perturbed by the choice of the ANC members of the National Assembly who sided with an irreparably corrupt president. The people of SA have been shown the middle-finger for the eight time.”
Nonetheless, the party was pleased “with the almost 30 ANC members who voted against thievery and Mr Zuma”, it said in a statement released on Tuesday night.
“The battle to save SA is not over though,” UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said in the statement.
“The UDM will join the EFF’s court proceedings for Mr Zuma’s impeachment. We shall also intensify our campaigns on the streets, in Parliament, and everywhere, for as long as Mr Zuma remains in office.”
The EFF set its impeachment bid in motion in April.
The DA recently applied to intervene in the application to the Constitutional Court lodged by the EFF the UDM and COPE.