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Casac: Mbete must protect ANC MPs who voted against Zuma

The African National Congress (ANC) now appears determined to identify and punish at least 30 MPs for breaking rank and siding with the opposition.

FILE: National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN – The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) is calling on Parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete to protect Members of Parliament (MPs) under threat of retribution for voting in favour of a motion to oust President Jacob Zuma.

When she announced that a secret ballot would be held, Mbete said that MPs first duty was to the Constitution and not their political party.

But the African National Congress (ANC) now appears determined to identify and punish at least 30 MPs for breaking rank and siding with the opposition.

But Casac’s Lawson Naidoo says it’s a criminal offence to interfere with the conduct of MPs who were legitimately doing their work.

“Anybody who is interfering with the member in that way can be subjected to an inquiry by a committee of Parliament and charged in terms of the Powers and Privileges Act.”

Naidoo says Mbete must step up to clarify that MPs were not only entitled to vote with their conscience but under a duty to do so.

He says that to suggest ANC MPs who voted in favour of the motion have betrayed the party, is dangerous and misleading and must be challenged.

ZUMA CALLS FOR ACTION

Addressing an ANC meeting late on Sunday, Zuma called the defectors “people who have double hearts, one for the ANC and one for other parties,” and said they “must be taken to the (ANC) disciplinary committee,” South African media reported.

“What our enemies (opposition members of parliament) were doing was to say: ‘How can we destroy the ANC and weaken it, so that we can take control of the country?’ ... We should never do it again,” Zuma was quoted as saying.

It was unclear how the party would be able to determine who had voted against Zuma or what action could be taken against them. The president said he would discuss the issue of dissenters at a meeting of the ANC on Monday.
ANC communications officials were unavailable to comment.

Critics say Zuma’s priority is to ensure he retains sufficient control over the party to ensure that his chosen candidate succeeds him as a leader so he can avoid scrutiny over corruption allegations that have dogged his eight years in power. Zuma has denied wrongdoing.

The opposition sought to oust Zuma after he removed finance minister Pravin Gordhan in March, a move that hit the financial markets and prompted two credit ratings agencies to downgrade South Africa’s debt rating to junk status.

Following the failure of the no-confidence motion, the main opposition Democratic Alliance party said it would bring a motion to dissolve parliament and call a general election. The ANC, which has a strong majority in the assembly, dismissed the DA’s call as “dreams and hallucinations”.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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