A motion of no confidence brought by the Democratic Alliance (DA) against President Jacob Zuma got off to a rocky start at the National Assembly on Thursday.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane said earlier that the motion would give parliament an “opportunity to give legitimate expression to the overwhelming disapproval of‚ and opposition to President Zuma and his administration.”
But before the debate could begin‚ the sitting descended into a heated verbal sparring match between EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu and ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu over whether the ballot could be held in secret.
Shivambu called for a secret ballot to be held to avoid any potential victimisation of ANC members who did not vote along party lines. He was promptly told to take his seat because there was no provision in the rules allowing a secret vote.
What followed were heckling‚ insults and several interruptions as the argument continued. “Why are you afraid of the secret ballot‚” shouted somebody. Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli had his hands full trying to restore order as his requests were ignored.
An irritated IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi stood up and asked‚ in disbelief‚ why the deputy speaker was allowing such chaos.
While the dispute went back and forth‚ pro-Zuma supporters gathered outside parliament where they were handed out ANC t-shirts and boxes of KFC meals.
Maimane‚ heckled as he spoke‚ appealed to members of the assembly to find common ground‚ regardless of their political affiliation‚ and put the country first. “We are team South Africa‚” he said.
He described Zuma as the “one man who holds us back from fulfilling the dreams of our people”.
“Let us rise above the differences and put the country first‚” he said.
Maimane noted that members of the ANC had spoken out against state capture. “I’m asking you to take South Africa’s side today‚” he said.
Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said that Zuma was president of the country as a result of the will of the people. She referred to Maimane as “black face” which drew a barrage of objections by the DA.
Rising to defend Zuma while being heckled from the DA benches‚ she said that he had acted against corruption by appointing commissions of inquiry and signed 69 proclamations authorising the Special Investigating Unit to rid the state of corruption.
“The African National Congress is ready to vote … we are never shaken‚ we will vote‚ we will oppose this motion‚” she said‚ adding that the party was on a path of self-correction and renewal.
Shivambu then rose to describe Zuma as responsible for a post “post-colonial disaster” in South Africa‚ a country whose government ministers were appointed by the Gupta family.
He likened Zuma to dictators‚ such as Idi Amin‚ who stole money on the African continent and eventually resorted to killing their opponents. “Jacob Zuma will kill you‚” he said‚ infuriating the ANC benches.
He refused to withdraw his comment about the Gupta family appointing ministers or his reference to Zuma being prepared to kill.
Buthelezi said the cry for Zuma to step down was echoing from around the country‚ from veterans of the ANC. He said the party was imploding: “We have no confidence in the president’s moral leadership.”
The debate continues. — Tiso Black Star Group Digital