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Mthembu confident ANC MPs won’t vote to remove Zuma

Opposition politicians have been lobbying ANC members to vote in favour of the vote no confidence in President Jacob Zuma later today.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma in the National Assembly. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN – African National Congress (ANC) Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu is confident his party’s Members of Parliament (MPs) won’t vote to remove President Jacob Zuma.

Opposition politicians have been lobbying ANC members to vote in favour of the vote no confidence in President Jacob Zuma later today.

On Monday, the Speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete surprised the nation by declaring that the vote would take the form of a secret ballot.

It’s an unprecedented move that could open the way for ANC MPs to vote contrary to the party line.

This will be the opposition’s eighth attempt to remove Zuma from office. But unlike other bids, this time, the votes will be secret.

Mthembu says his party won’t side with the opposition even though the vote is secret.

The ANC chief whip concedes that he shares the concerns of many South Africans about state capture, but that he says using Parliament to remove Zuma from office is not the solution.

“Issues that they are raising, are issues that we as the ANC are raising and are issues that I have raised myself.”

Last year, Mthembu suggested that the entire national executive committee step down in the wake of the party’s disappointing performance in the local government elections.

WATCH: Mbete announces her decision on secret ballot

IMPLICATIONS OF THIS VOTE FOR THE ANC

Mbete’s statement that she can allow a vote by secret ballot when the political atmosphere becomes toxified or highly charged appears to be a concession that the ANC’s own politics is toxified or highly charged.

It would seem that she believes that the only way around this vote is to go the secret ballot route.

But if ANC MPs do vote against President Zuma, they would probably create a more toxic atmosphere in the party ahead of the December conference and could, in fact, lead to the conference simply not happening at all.

At the same time, they would also know that the ANC simply cannot risk an early election before electing a new leader and giving that person time to try and unify the party.

ALL EYES ON ANC MPS

All eyes are on ANC MPs ahead of today’s vote on a motion of no confidence in Zuma.

Mbete granted the request by opposition parties on Monday afternoon, following a Constitutional Court judgment that the law allowed her to rule on how voting in the matter could proceed.

Opposition parties are now saying that if Mbete can go against the party line, ANC MPs can do the same and vote for Zuma's removal.

They have also called on South Africans to make their voices heard on Tuesday.

Quipping that Mbete is the new incoming president, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema says there’s now no reason for ANC MPs not to vote against Zuma.

“It is now the opportunity for them to demonstrated that they too are tired corruption which is happening in this country.”

DA leader Mmusi Maimane Mbete’s ruling is a historic one.

“Let us place the displaced interests of the 58 million South Africans first tomorrow when we vote and not subject them to the will of one person.”

But Freedom Front Plus’ Pieter Groenewald has warned against complacency, saying Mbete’s decision could be a sign that the ANC is confident its members will not step out of line.”

WATCH: Opposition welcome secret ballot vote

'ZUMA WILL STILL BE PRESIDENT ON WEDNESDAY MORNING'

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal says it is confident that South Africans will wake up to Zuma still in the highest office in the land on Wednesday.

The province held its lekgotla over the weekend and announced its resolutions on Monday afternoon.

It has taken aim at ANC MPs like Makhosi Khoza who have called on their peers to vote with their conscience ahead of Tuesday's motion.

“As we meet here we feel that tomorrow nothing would have changed. South Africa will sleep under President Zuma and on Wednesday we will still be led by President Zuma.”

KZN ANC chair Sihle Zikalala says millions of South Africans knew that Zuma would be leading the organisation when they voted for the party in 2014.

“To remove Zuma does not represent the 62% who voted in favour of the ANC.”

Zikalala has called for ANC MPs to toe the party line.

The KZN ANC says there is a psychological warfare directed at harming the reputation of the organisation.

Additional reporting by Stephen Grootes.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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