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Zuma may face no-confidence motion, Parliament Speaker says

Top ANC officials criticize Zuma’s handling of cabinet changes.

South African parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete said she’s considering a request to recall lawmakers to debate an opposition-sponsored motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma, after he made sweeping cabinet changes that top ruling party officials said was done without their consultation.

“Given the seriousness inherent in the motions of no confidence and their implication on the nation, I have therefore decided to cut my trip to Bangladesh short to ensure that these requests are given the appropriate consideration,” Mbete told reporters Sunday as she landed at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. Parliament is currently on its Easter recess.

Zuma and his cabinet would have to resign if a no-confidence motion succeeds, Masibulele Xaso, the National Assembly secretary, said at the briefing. Mbete ruled out a secret ballot in a possible vote, saying it’s not in the rules of Parliament.

The announcement followed increased pressure from within the African National Congress and opposition parties that’s been building on the president since he fired Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and made 19 other changes to his administration early Friday. Zuma’s actions sent the rand tumbling and borrowing costs soaring. The demand for parliamentary action came from the main opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Front.

The rand weakened 0.3% to 13.4482 per dollar by 8:39am in Johannesburg on Monday.

 

 

The decision by Zuma, 74, to fire Gordhan, with whom he feuded over control of state finances, and to not consult with his top party officials on the other cabinet changes brought to the open South Africa’s biggest political crisis in almost a decade. Zuma told his party’s leaders that Gordhan was divisive in the cabinet and blocked other ministers’ projects, according to a person with knowledge of their meeting.

Zuma replaced Gordhan with former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, 45, who has no financial or business experience.

ANC Majority

The ANC has used its 62% majority in the 400-seat National Assembly to block four motions of no-confidence, which require a simple majority to pass, and one impeachment attempt filed by the opposition since Zuma took office in May 2009. It’s been comfortably the biggest party in South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994.

The outcome this time is less certain after Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe and Treasurer-General Zweli Mkhize publicly questioned the manner in which the cabinet changes were handled. The trio make up half of the party’s committee of top officials. Jackson Mthembu, the ANC’s parliamentary chief whip, also criticized on Twitter the decision to fire Gordhan, while the South African Communist Party, which is in an alliance with the ANC, urged Zuma to quit, describing his actions as “recklessness.”

Mbete said that it isn’t in the ANC’s “culture” to publicly criticise its leaders and that there’s no rule forcing the president to consult with the party’s top echelons to discuss cabinet changes.

Firing ‘Unacceptable’

While Ramaphosa described Zuma’s reasons for firing Gordhan as “unacceptable,” Mkhize said the president’s failure to consult the ANC’s top leadership about the rest of the cabinet changes “left a distinct impression that the ANC is no longer the center” of decision making in the government.

Along with Zuma, Mbete, who is also the party’s chairwoman, and deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte round out the ANC’s top six officials. ANC leaders are scheduled to meet on Monday.

The cabinet changes come less than nine months before Zuma is due to step down as ANC leader, and a year after the nation’s top court found that he violated his oath of office when he refused to repay taxpayer funds spent on his private home. His second and final term as the nation’s president is due to end in 2019.

“I am alive to the extreme challenges and sense of anxiety that our young democracy is going through at this moment,” Mbete said. “Our people are looking to parliament to play its part and exercise its constitutional responsibilities.”

© 2017 Bloomberg

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Does she have the right to “consider a motion of no confidence”? Surely there must be a certain minimum number of MP’s requesting such a vote, and I would have thought provided that number is reached, it’s not her decision to make. Such has been the internal strife in the rank and file ANC MP’s that if added to the number of DA and EFF Members, that there should be no doubt that she must accede to the request. This is not the same as the vote itself, where a simple majority is all that Zuma requires to defeat the notion. I’ve been Googling but can’t find any reference to the actual number needed to force Mbete into permitting the vote.

Not sure and have been wondering the same thing. We can only hope that by submitting the request a sufficient condition has been met that it must be heard.

Bottom line, much as I would like the no confidence debate to win with the 50+ ANC MP’s voting on opposition’s side, I cannot really believe it will succeed for one simple reason: they will lose their cushy jobs and salaries as MP’s if they vote against the Zuptas.

If a secret ballot on a vote of no confidence is not in the rules of parliament, why not change the rules? It is not as though these rules are the constitution of the country that needs to go through the constitutional court. Those poor judges are overworked trying to run the country.

People may believe that JZ should go but be intimidated into not casting a vote against the President in case it hurts them. They are human after all. It is members of parliaments considered opinion that matters, not how intimidated they are.

They only change the rules if their pockets get lined with cash. I thought everyone knew that.

I think it’s better that the motion of no confidence do not succeed. That way the people can remove the whole corrupt anc in 2019. No use we change one corrupt president for the next one. The anc has showed SA they only act in the best interest of the Gupta family and not SA by keeping incompetent ministers and fire honorable ministers.

Yes on your comments re the Gupta’s, but on waiting until 2019 – well, by then the coffers will be long empty…

By the time 2019 arrives, the country will be in a state of bankruptcy that will make Zimbabwe look like a Sunday School picnic.

@Raptor -the problem is that although the recent elections showed a marked swing away from the ANC in metropolitan areas, the rural folk will continue to vote ANC regardless of the competencies of their parliamentarians. Which is why the are more often referred to as sheeple rather than people. 🙂

How about SA corporate puts R2 billion in a kitty and offer jobs to any MP that loses his job becaue he voted this way or that.

Salaries for 50 (ex) MPs at R2m or so per year x 20 years is R2 billion. That is very very very cheap. The banks lost R86 billion in market cap just last week!

That is now if the only reason the required 50 ANC MPs won’t vote in favour is because they fear losing their income.

Surely the relatively back pocket change that is the salaries of 50 people cannot be the only obstacle to liberty?

I am obviously not saying votes must be “bought”. That would be wrong. I am saying remove the fear of losing a livelihood, by giving a back-up if (and only if) taking a stand lead to losing your job.

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