Johannesburg – The African National Congress has warned that party MPs risk being fired if they vote with the opposition in a motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma in Parliament.
“There is no ANC member who will vote for an opposition motion, that will be uncharacteristic of the ANC,” secretary general Gwede Mantashe said.
The warning comes amid claims by opposition party leaders that ANC members had contacted them, claiming that they would support the Democratic Alliance motion for a vote of no confidence in Zuma.
Opposition parties have dared ANC leaders dissatisfied with Zuma to vote with their conscience, instead of toeing the party line.
Several senior leaders – including chief whip Jackson Mthembu, former tourism minister Derek Hanekom, and health minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi – have called on Zuma to go.
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The SACP – which has several MP’s in Parliament, including Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande – also called for Zuma to step down. This has been supported by other alliance member Cosatu.
Mantashe said there was no notion of voting with conscience in the ANC.
“Why do you think the ANC is, Father Christmas? I don’t know where this notion comes from that we are a collection of individuals who have conscience. We are members of ANC in a party political system.”
“No army in the world allows soldiers to be commanded by enemy general,” Mantashe said.
Zuma’s reasons accepted
He said the DA itself had fired its own councillors who did not follow the party line in a council vote.
Mantashe was addressing the media on Wednesday at party headquarters Luthuli House, in Johannesburg, following the party’s extended national working committee meeting on Tuesday.
“If you say we will recall Zuma because opposition say that, it won’t work,” Mantashe said.
He said the party had accepted Zuma’s reasons for firing Pravin Gordhan, and that it was a mistake for party officials to differ in public over the Cabinet reshuffle last week.
Mantashe, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and treasurer general Zweli Mkhize had publicly criticised Zuma’s decision to reshuffle his Cabinet, saying they had not been consulted.
The trio said the list was written “elsewhere”.
Mantashe told the media that Zuma had informed them in November 2016 that he was planning to fire Gordhan, but they persuaded him to wait.
Consulted on Gordhan axing
He said Zuma had only consulted them on replacing Gordhan, but not on the rest of the changes in his executive. Zuma appointed former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba in Gordhan’s place.
The SACP revealed that during a bilateral meeting, Zuma told them he wanted to replace Gordhan with newly sworn in MP and former Eskom boss Brian Molefe, which they rejected.
“The list was given to us, we didn’t discuss it, we don’t know where it was compiled, we didn’t discuss it, hence we raised the issue of not being consulted,” Mantashe said.
He said the party accepted that Zuma’s relationship with Gordhan breaking down was sufficient reason for firing him. Mantashe said it “made sense”, but added that speculation over Gordhan’s axing was complicated by the much condemned “intelligence report” that suggested Gordhan was holding secret meetings during his overseas investor road show to undermine Zuma.
Mantashe would, however, not give reasons for the “irretrievable relationship” between the two and compared it to a couple getting divorced. He said there were “tensions that made it difficult for the president and minister to work together”.