ANC must choose between Zuma or SA – Mmusi Maimane

DA says one constant thread that runs through every crisis is the president and the situation will not change while he remains in power

ANC must choose: It’s either Zuma or South Africa

20 October 2016

South Africa is at a cross-roads today. On almost every front, and in almost every community, our country faces unprecedented crises that threaten to undermine the progress our nation has made since 1994, and jeopardize our shared future. 

Our economy is flirting dangerously with recession with no leadership from the President to turn this around. Close to 9 million South Africans still cannot find a job in order to provide for themselves and their loved ones. Zuma’s “nine-point plan” to grow the economy and create jobs is so underwhelming even the President himself cannot recite the plan, nevermind implement it.

Our higher education sector, essential for providing skills for the economy and helping young South Africans access opportunities, is on the brink of collapse, starved of funding and leadership by the ANC government. Police clash with students, while our campuses burn. This negatively affects all of our futures, yet President Zuma remains nowhere to be found.

Our State-owned Enterprises are hot-beds of corruption, as we throw billions of rands down the drain to rescue these money suckers, with pro-Zuma ANC cadres unwilling to make the changes needed for recovery. And in light of conclusive evidence that we cannot afford, and do not need nuclear energy, Jacob Zuma intends to shackle the country to a trillion rand nuclear deal.

Jacob Zuma continues his personal project of state capture, as our institutions of state are flooded with Zuma’s “yes-men”. Private interests, like those of the Guptas, are now unofficial members of the Cabinet, shaping decisions that should be in the public interest. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has also become the newest weapon in Zuma’s defence arsenal which he uses to settle scores, and ultimately stay in power.

This has recently culminated in the suspicious charges of fraud brought against the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, which has created a real fear that the President is determined to get rid of the one set of stable hands in government still available to navigate our country through these troubled times – and in turn hold the keys to Treasury.

The one constant thread that runs through every crisis is Jacob Zuma himself. Indeed, the situation will not change while Jacob Zuma remains in the Union Buildings.

How could we forget that this is a man that began his presidency with 783 charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering hanging over his “ugly head of impunity”. And he has continued to encourage and promote the cancer of corruption that steals jobs and opportunities from our people.

As a nation, we must be honest and ask ourselves how long we are prepared to wait. How long can we continue to allow Jacob Zuma to break our economy, and ruin the future of millions of South Africans?

While we have less than 1000 days until the national elections – which will be a public referendum on Zuma and his ANC – we need to release South Africa from Zuma’s death grip as soon as we possibly can. We are fast approaching the tipping point. 

Significantly, this sentiment that Jacob Zuma must go now seems to be broadly shared within the ANC and government itself. While the ANC mother body has diligently protected Jacob Zuma collectively over his 7 year term, it appears patience has run out. The party is seemingly done with witnessing the damage Zuma continues to inflict.

Many senior ANC members, both inside and outside the party, have publically taken a stand against Jacob Zuma and his project of State Capture. Prominent figures such as Trevor Manuel, Ahmed Kathrada, Sipho Pityana, Mathews Phosa, and Denis Goldberg, have all spoken out against Zuma, calling for his resignation. Within Zuma’s own cabinet, ministers have begun to speak out in this regard.

- Tourism Minister, Derek Hanekom added his voice on the Pravin Gordhan matter saying that “When a minister is charged with such an absurd charge you have to start wondering but why? What lies behind it?”

- Public Works Minister, Thulas Nxesi, said “We are fully and squarely behind comrade Pravin. He is a man of integrity”.

- Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi was quoted saying “We want law and order, not institutions used to fight nefarious political battles”.

- Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the case against Gordhan was “a national embarrassment”that left him “dumbfounded”.

- Energy Committee Chairman, Fikile Majola, said it was time for Zuma to go as he had caused the ANC enough damage. This view was openly supported by other MPs including Mondli Gungubele and Lerumo Kalako.

Here in Parliament, ANC Chief Whip, Jackson Mthembu, has also spoken out, indicating he too is coming to the end of his tether. Following the ANC’s recent Midterm Review Caucus Lekgotla, the Caucus concluded:

There was unanimity in the view that the Movement … was plagued by credibility and image challenges which is a consequence of either its inaction or action in dealing with certain issues that confronted it"

Moreover, the ANC is on record, stating that “it shall no longer be business as usual; the ANC in Parliament will in both words and deed, regain moral high ground, vigorously advance clean governance, champion the fight against corruption, shun incompetence and decisively deal with ill-discipline.”

Whilst we are pleased with the newfound candour of the ANC Cabinet and Parliamentary Caucus, we are sceptical of its commitment to self-correct, especially considering its habit of blindly defending President Jacob Zuma. 

The real question on everyone’s lips is, how do we ensure these comments are not just hot air and big talk, or selective internal campaigning within the ANC, and that in fact the time for Zuma to be dismissed so that our country can move forward again is now coming to fruition.

As the DA, we have explored how best to create a constitutional platform in which effect can be given to such public overtures. This so that ANC MPs and Cabinet Ministers, who seemingly reserve their outrage for selective quotes in Sunday newspapers, are afforded the opportunity make their voices heard when it matters most. That the ANC itself can put its money where its mouth is and show South Africa that it and Jacob Zuma are not one in the same. 

Because, as the Official Opposition, our primary concern is the well-being of our country, and not internal factionalism within the ANC.

It is this for this reason, after much consideration, the DA has taken a decision to table a motion of no confidence in the President of the Republic this term, before the end of the year is done. 

I want to state categorically that we did not come to this decision easily. We know that there is scepticism when a minority party tables a motion that requires majority support.

But we simply can’t sit by and do nothing because of the risk of the motion not being passed. We cannot render the role of Parliament and the constitutional provisions involved to be rendered useless. If we did that, we may as well not recognise Parliament at all.

In fact, this motion is not about the Democratic Alliance. It is not about other opposition parties either. Nor is it about the merits or successes and failures of previous motions similar to this one. 

This motion is all about the African National Congress. Because, it will present the party with two very clear choices.

Either, its Parliamentary Caucus could appreciate the current societal malaise, introspect, and vote with conscience in supporting the motion to remove Jacob Zuma from office. 

Or, the 246 member caucus, including Cabinet Ministers, can choose to come to this Parliament when we debate this motion, and defend the indefensible at all costs, ultimately telling all 53 million South Africans that the ANC has full confidence in President Jacob Zuma and his leadership.

This is a golden opportunity for the ANC to stop playing “hot potato” politics; we all know the root cause of our country’s current turmoil, and the time for passing blame is over. 

The ANC must work with us in Parliament to remove Jacob Zuma, once and for all, so we can get our country working again.

As the DA, we therefore make a sincere appeal, on behalf of all South Africans, to do the right thing and vote in favour of this notion of no confidence.

As the elected assembly of the people, Parliament has its role to play in this regard. It is the country first, and political party second.

On too many occasions, due to the ANC’s support for the Executive, this institution has found itself on the side of corruption instead of accountability. This must come to an end.

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, which we as Members of Parliament, swore to uphold and protect, provide set mechanisms for the removal of the President. When the House loses confidence in the President, Section 102 of the Constitution makes it clear that he can be removed with the support of the majority of members.

We intend to do what we can to make this happen, because to save South Africa, Jacob Zuma must go and go now.

Issued by Mabine Seabe, Spokesperson to the DA Leader, 20 October 2016