South Africa

Our choice is important: Mmusi Maimane

  • President Jacob Zuma escaped the chop when ruling party used numbers to vote against motion of no confidence yesterday.

    News 24 reports the vote, delayed by a quarter of an hour because the electronic ballot system broke down, was 221 to 113 against the motion, with eight members of the National Assembly abstaining.

    The opposition used the technical problem to propose that the chamber proceed with an open, manual vote – daring ruling party MPs to openly defy the president.

    Closing the no confidence debate, DA MP Mmusi Maimane had challenged the ANC benches to break ranks and said the vote came down to a simple choice of whether they believed the president had stolen taxpayers’ money to improve his home in Nkandla.

    “People have a choice. They can vote ‘yes’ if they belief the president is a thief or ‘no, the president is not a thief.

    “The choice today is whether we choose President Zuma or we choose the people of South Africa.”

    Earlier the same charge was put by the EFF’s Nokolunga Sonti who, unlike Maimane, refused to withdraw and instead simply cut short her speech and sat down.

    Cope President Mosiuoa Lekota pleaded that removing Zuma from power by a majority vote in the chamber was the route to salvation for a country tired of crime, corruption and the president’s “ducking and diving”.

    “It is the only way in which we can save ourselves.”

    But the debate, which took place with Zuma’s seat empty, lacked the fire of last week’s question session where he defied suggestions that he was enriched by the R246m upgrade of his Nkandla home.

    The FF Plus’s Pieter Groenewald said Zuma’s absence from difficult debates was habitual. He had not been present for those on the landing of a private plane at Waterkloof air base in the Guptagate scandal and the death of 13 South African soldiers in the Central African Republic in 2013 either, he recalled.

    “The president runs away from his responsibilities. There is a movie called the Runaway Bride about a bride who could not accept the responsibilities and commitment of marriage.

    “That is Hollywood. In South Africa it is a reality.”

    Secret ballot         

    Groenewald said if voting by secret ballot had been allowed, Zuma would likely be shaken by the result because ANC MPs were supporting him not out of loyalty but to protect their livelihood.


    The point was repeated by Agang MP Andries Tlouamma, who dismayed both sides of the House last month when he brought a motion of no confidence in Zuma then withdrew it in protest at the absence of a secret ballot.

    On Tuesday, he said he had done so not because he lacked the courage to proceed but because such a vote was pointless if ruling party members could not feel free to support the motion without fear of sanction.

    “The Zuma presidency epitomises poverty of leadership, it has made this country a time bomb waiting to explode,” he added.

    “What are we afraid of? Is comradeship more important than our country?”

    Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu launched a personal attack on Maimane who introduced Tuesday’s motion, saying he was the “weakest DA leader”.

    “Out there on twitter everybody is telling the story that you are being propped up by your chief whip there behind you.”

    Senior DA MP James Selfe hit back by describing Zuma a leader who should never have become president and has since 2009 “quite simply failed to lead”.

    “Look at Nkandla, look at what happened to the Hawks, look at what is happening to poor old Mr McBride,” he said, referring to the embattled head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

    Turning to intelligence probes into the political opponents and the security clampdown during the state of the nation address, he added: “South Africa has become an authoritarian state and he presides over it with all the ruthlessnes of a Vladimir Putin and all the sleaze of a Richard Nixon.”

    The IFP criticised Zuma in its speech but said it did not support the motion.