Thabo Mbeki, president at the time, and Jacob Zuma at the ANC policy conference in Midrand in 2007. Picture: MARTIN RHODES
Thabo Mbeki, president at the time, and Jacob Zuma at the ANC policy conference in Midrand in 2007. Picture: MARTIN RHODES

Former president Thabo Mbeki urged MPs on Tuesday to vote “honestly” in a vote of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma.

Mbeki‚ who is currently in Kenya as an African Union observer for their national elections‚ said South African MPs needed to ask themselves if they had confidence in their president‚ “depending on what this president has been doing”.

“They have got to make that assessment‚” said Mbeki.

He said the secret vote was decided upon to protect MPs who wanted to support the motion of no confidence.

“The reason that it was decided‚ the Speaker decided‚ that they should have the responsibility to vote secretly‚ is so that they should vote truthfully‚ without fear that maybe the party‚ in this case the ANC‚ might banish them if they vote in support of the motion of no confidence…

“[The secret vote decision was made] so that they [can] vote honestly and according to their consciences and according to the information that they have.

“All of us hope that they will vote honestly.

“I think those MPs must recall that they are the representatives of the people and must therefore represent the people in terms of what they decide‚” said Mbeki.

Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota predicts that even though parliament will be packed on Tuesday afternoon‚ MPs will feel “lonely”.

“Each one of us has to… ask [ourselves] the question of where the country needs to go. How to cast the vote such that we’ve made a contribution to a future that our people deserve‚" Lekota said.

Struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada wrote an open letter to Zuma before his death in March this year asking him to resign.

“To paraphrase the famous MK slogan of the time‚ there comes a time in the life of every nation when it must choose to submit or fight. Today I appeal to our president to submit to the will of the people and resign‚” Kathrada wrote.

ANC stalwarts and veterans wrote an open letter on Sunday to MPs. The letter has 101 signatories‚ including the remaining Rivonia trialists‚ Denis Goldberg and Andrew Mlangeni.

“As you approach the moment of truth‚ please appreciate that the personal decision you make in this vote of no confidence‚ will not simply be judged in the weeks to come‚ but will be written into the history‚ not only of the country‚ but that of the ANC as an act that struck a blow for the rescuing of the ANC‚” the letter read.

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