The Emperor is Naked & Other Lessons from the No Confidence Secret Vote
The Emperor is indeed naked but as South Africans learned on the 8th of August 2017 amid the outcome of the secret ballot vote of no confidence in Jacob Zuma, it is quite clear that the emperor is not the only one naked.
As the highly anticipated Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma was fast approaching, the opposition was buoyed by the announcement that the vote would be concluded by way of a secret ballot. By then, notable leaders of the opposition which included Mmusi Maimane (DA), Julius Malema (EFF) and Bantu Holomisa (UDM) had already publicly stated that several Members of Parliament from the ANC caucus were ready to break ranks and vote for the motion to remove the President. The cracks were quite clear and the writing was on the wall for the ANC.
In the run-up to the vote, the ANC caucus leader & Chief Whip, Jackson Mthembu had outlined and reiterated the position of the ANC by denouncing the motion as an attempt by the opposition to remove the ANC from power. The Citizen quoted him asserting that:
“It is them [opposition] who will start their campaign this afternoon [if the vote to remove Zuma] carries.”
From this position it became evident to South Africans that the motion wouldn’t succeed as several other ANC MPs sustained the sentiments of their Chief Whip.
As widely anticipated, the motion was concluded by way of a secret ballot and it had indeed failed with 177 votes for and 198 against the motion. However, what became increasingly clear is that the ANC remains a deeply fractured party. For the first time since the democratic dispensation, several MP’s from the governing party voted with the opposition in the motion to remove their own President. More so than that, it highlighted what most South Africans already know about Jacob Zuma – that he is indeed corrupt and driving South Africa’s economy into ruins whilst severely compromising the livelihoods of millions of South Africans. It became apparent to some of the ANC MPs that the country is accelerating into a downward trajectory with Jacob Zuma at the controls. So the brave MPs such as Makhosi Khoza and former Finance Minister Pravin Gordon took a stand along with some 30 or so of their colleagues to support the DA’s motion to remove President Jacob Zuma.
The lessons to take away from this motion are clear and particularly striking to those who appreciate the vibrant and beauty of our democracy.
At first, we all know that President Jacob Zuma is a naked emperor and as The Citizen Reports, “The general consensus is that he brought it all on himself”. President Jacob Zuma allowed himself to be consumed by the devious and corrupt dealings of the infamous Gupta family. He has on countless occasions proven that his grip on power and constitutional mandate to lead the country has been diluted by personal interests to enrich himself, his family and crony network. From the days of the Gupta-gate scandal to the Nkandla-gate scandal and report after report from institutions of State pronouncing Zuma as complicit to multiple illicit and corrupt activities, he has, by cover of he’s party, continued to undermine the constitution, failed to live up to the duties of his esteemed office and failed on delivering on the promises he made in 2009 when he was elected to become South Africa’s President.
So then, with consideration of all the wrong that Zuma has done which to the eyes of many South Africa’s warrants his removal, why hasn’t the ANC or its MPs done the right thing and voted the President out?
The answer is simple. By protecting Jacob Zuma, the ANC have themselves become complicit to corruption and state capture prevalent in South Africa. They have allowed a dishonest constitutional delinquent to continue to hold office whilst they use every organ of state within their capture to exonerate him from any wrong doing. As such, the ANC has proven to all South Africans that Jacob Zuma isn’t the only enemy to the development and progress of South Africa but it is indeed clear that the entire ANC is. Furthermore, it reinforces the societal sentiment that the ANC is out of touch with the people of South Africa. It is furthermore clear that the emperor (Zuma) remains naked. He is not the only one, and 198 ANC MP’s find themselves in a similar situation as the emperor.
On a more positive side, it provided South Africans a bit of solace to learn that at least there are still honest leaders within the ANC as about 30 of them voted to oust President Jacob Zuma. The opposition DA, EFF, UDM and others are the biggest victors of the August 8th motion. Although the motion had failed, it represented a symbolic and psychological victory for the opposition in the run-up to the 2019 general election. More and more South Africans are beginning to see the ANC and Jacob Zuma for what and who they truly are and as such, many have vowed to vote for the opposition come 2019.
In the end, the biggest lesson to all South Africans is that participating in the 2019 elections will be the most important thing they have done since the election of the ANC in 1994. The harsh contrast in 2019 as opposed to 1994 is that South Africans speak of removing the ANC. This contrast illustrates how after 23 years of service the ANC is tired, out of ideas and dying a slow death. It is incumbent on all South Africans to protect the future of South Africa by making a wise decision in 2019. By understanding that it is their vote which gave the ANC power and now is it is their vote that will remove the ANC.
Author: Neo Mkwane is a liberal thinker, youth activist and democrat. He holds a BA in Politics & Public Management from the North-West University and is pursuing post-graduate studies in Politics at the University of Cape Town. He’s a former commentator on the blog Think Like a Liberal and has an obsession with political current affairs.