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Former MK commander and prisoner-of-war-turned author Omry Makgoale – in this pieced that first appeared on Politicsweb – says the outcome of the no-confidence debate will shape the future path of South African politics. Should backbencher ANC MPs vote with the opposition to remove President Zuma, it will save the soul of the Zuptoid-captured party. Should they toe the line and defy the deafening societal roar for Msholozi to go, it will so erode confidence in a once proud liberation movement that it will be tantamount to party political suicide. By December when the ANC elective conference chooses Msholozi’s successor, the destruction will be, if not complete, as near as dammit is to swearing. Only a herculean effort by current deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa – should he win the party leadership – will mitigate the reputational damage done, enabling him to take the reins and start rebuilding the party. Makgoale echoes a growing choir of social commentators and political scientists in supplication for reform of the current proportional representation system which gives the President such absolute power over parliament and his own party. Its’ obvious flaws were hidden under the largesse and reconciliatory approach of Madiba, exposed by Mbeki and are now revealed as downright dangerous by Zuma. – Chris Bateman
By Omry Makgoale*
ANC members of parliament will be tested to the bitter end. Do they choose loyalty to president Zuma above loyalty to the country? Which way to go for ANC MPs, especially the backbenchers?
As the day of reckoning approaches, and the day of the vote of motion of no confidence in President Zuma comes nearer, decision time comes closer every day. They are under extreme pressure from above to vote to keep Zuma as president, which implies continued plundering of the state and government resources under tutelage of the Guptas, with placement of their deployees in Eskom, Transnet, department of minerals and energy, department of public enterprises and the finance ministry as the ultimate trophy.
The country is then likely to get a further downgrade from Moody’s Investor Service, plunging it deeper into a political and economic quagmire.
ANC Backbenchers to play historical role to save South Africa
ANC MPs have a critical, historical role to play in the life of the republic of South Africa to vote with opposition parties to remove president Zuma and save the country. By removing Zuma they will revive the ANC of OR Tambo and Nelson Mandela by dumping the Guptas-controlled ANC of Zuma into the dustbin of history. ANC will then have a chance to recover from this prolonged nightmare, heading to a likely electoral defeat in 2019 general elections.
ANC backbenchers are called upon to save the ANC, after the National Executive Committee has proved to be part of the problem. Effectively, 80% of the NEC – elected at the Mangaung national elective conference five years ago – can be classified as having been captured by the Guptas with their “Smallernyana Skeletons in the cupboard.”
Does Loyalty to Zuma mean loyalty to ANC or Vice Versa?
Does loyalty to the ANC mean the same thing as loyalty to Zuma, and vice versa? The answer is no!!
Zuma is deployed by the ANC and he is supposed to live according to the principles and procedures set out in the ANC’s Through the Eye of the Needle document. But as we can see, he is clearly not following that basic requirement, binding on ANC president.
Scores of liberation movement leaders have implored him to resign without success, the SACP and COSATU alliance partners have demanded that he should step down without success, yet he stays in power with impunity and with a level of arrogance uncharacteristic of ANC discipline and its culture of tolerance.
Where does this leave the traditions of ANC but in limbo?
Is ANC is powerless against the leader they deployed?
ANC is now powerless against its leader, the leader it deployed. This is all caused by the shortcomings of the system of parliamentary electoral laws, set out in the Constitution of South Africa, as amended.
The country’s 100% proportional representation electoral system (PR), also called a closed list system, centralises power in one person, who is elected as party leader. The party leader becomes the president of the state, the head of government and the leader of MPs of the ruling party. Effectively, the President employs all the party’s MPs in the National Assembly, in provincial legislatures and in local government, as well as public officials in government institutions.
Any MP who steps out of line can be sacked at a moment’s notice by the party headquarters, and replaced with X or Y or Z from the party slate.
This is what has made the National Assembly so ineffective in demanding accountability from the executive. Under this grossly flawed electoral system, the leader of the ruling political party – as head of the executive – controls the legislature as the boss of his MPs, who are deployed at his mercy in parliament.
There is no separation of powers in this system, as the basic condition of parliamentary democracy. Voters have no protection against the executive, since they do not choose any MP as an individual and they cannot sack any MP as an individual.
There is no constituency or ward system at the level of National Assembly, or provincial legislatures, or half of municipal councils, offering protection to politicians as representatives of the people, instead of appointees of party headquarters, as at present. This means there is no possibility – or almost no possibility – of freedom of conscience for an MP to uphold the best interests of the people, since MPs are not elected by the voters in constituencies, who alone can remove those MPs at the next election.
Brian Molefe Shenanigans demonstrating the flaws and weaknesses of the electoral laws
The recent shenanigans around the story of Brian Molefe– an ardent exponent of the wishes of the Guptas – has demonstrated the true character of the electoral law. If the party leader does not like you, you are told to resign and somebody from the street comes in to replace you without the participation of the electorate, even without a by-election – just by the prerogative of the president.
The movements of Brian Molefe in and out of the National Assembly demonstrate how powerless the MPs are, under this electoral law. They serve in parliament at the discretion of the party leader, who happens to be the president. If he does not like you, you can be replaced by somebody from the street, a fly by night ANC member whose membership was hushed up behind the back doors of First National Bank.
Even for sceptics, this incident has demonstrated that the Guptas are in charge, and that our parliament – for which so many fought, and died, over so many years– is just a shameful and criminal charade.
ANC Backbenchers called upon to remove President Zuma from office
It is under these conditions that the ANC backbenchers are called upon to do the unthinkable, the unexpected, the dramatic – and vote with opposition parties to remove their sitting president, who has never been as vulnerable as he is at the moment.
It is up to ANC backbenchers to save the country and the ANC. It is in their hands to be patriotic and place the interests of the country ahead of the interests of Zuma and the Guptas, while they will also place the interests of the country ahead of their personal interests.
It is in their hands to save the country and the ANC, and dump Zuma into the dustbin of history.
Will they have the courage?
If not, it will be clear that our whole electoral system will have to be changed. That will be another time of struggle.
- Omry Makgoale is a rank and file member of the ANC. These are his personal views.
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