Mbeki: ANC MPs must vote honestly and without fear

Former President Thabo Mbeki is in Kenya as an observer for the country's hotly contested presidential elections.

FILE: Former President Thabo Mbeki participates in the National Foundations Dialogue Initiative. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

NAIROBI – Former President Thabo Mbeki has urged African National Congress (ANC) Members of Parliament (MPs) to vote honestly and truthfully without fearing punishment from the party.

Mbeki spoke to Eyewitness News in Kenya.

He’s in the east African country as an observer for Kenya’s hotly contested presidential elections.

While the ANC has called on its MPs to toe the party line, Mbeki says they must vote honestly without fear of victimisation.

“They should vote truthfully without fear that maybe the party, in this case, the ANC might punish them if they vote in support of the motion of no confidence, in order so that they vote honestly and according to their conscience and information they have. And all of us hope they will vote honestly.”

Mbeki has also urged ANC MPs to properly assess whether they have confidence in President Jacob Zuma before voting in a motion of no confidence in him.

“One hopes that indeed those MPs will discharge that responsibility to make a proper assessment as to do they have confidence in this president. Depending on what the president has been doing and so they’ve got to make that assessment so that they should vote truthfully.”

Members of Parliament will debate the motion at 2pm before casting their votes in secret.

WATCH: Thabo Mbeki on motion of no confidence

On Monday, in a surprise move, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbethe granted the opposition their request for a secret vote, avoiding protracted legal action.

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.

Additional reporting by Kevin Brandt and Stephen Grootes.