Johannesburg – The ANC’s failure to discipline President Jacob Zuma for breaching his oath of office in the Nkandla matter could not be compared to African National Congress MPs voting with the opposition to remove Zuma.
This was the response of ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe on Tuesday when asked about the party’s decision to institute disciplinary action against MPs who had voted for a motion of no confidence in Zuma.
In March 2016 the Constitutional Court found that Zuma had failed to uphold, respect and defend the Constitution by failing to comply with the Public Protector’s remedial action that he pay back the money for the upgrades at his Nkandla home.
Following the judgment, the ANC accepted Zuma’s apology.
ANC insiders have argued that violating the country’s Constitution was a more “serious action of misconduct” than voting for Zuma to be ousted.
Lack of consistency
Mantashe said it was “treacherous” for journalists to compare the two matters and that people had to differentiate between state and party when pushed about the seeming lack of consistency in how the ANC was dealing with matters that brought the party into disrepute.
“I am not in Parliament; I am not in government – I am running the ANC,” Mantashe said.
He said if ANC MPs were angry over Nkandla, they had an opportunity to do things differently when an ad hoc committee into the matter was constituted by Parliament.
The committee’s inquiry was widely regarded as a sham with ANC MPs blocking the opposition’s attempts to hold Zuma accountable.
Mantashe singled out former chief whip Mathole Motshekga.
“In the ANC ad hoc committee, one of the people who actually gave the interpretation of the law that some of us questioned at the time was Dr Mathole Motshekga, today he is very angry,” Mantashe said.
Motshekga has defended ANC members who have publicly said they would defy the party’s decision for MPs to vote to defeat the motion and instead said they will vote with their conscience.
Mantashe said the disciplinary process was not a “witch hunt” as they were not going to look for people who voted with the opposition, but are going after those who publicly admitted voting in support of the motion of no confidence.
“We are not going to have lie detectors, but if they come out and say: ‘Yes, I voted with the opposition,’ you are no longer following your own conscience, but you are daring your own party,” Mantashe said.
He said ignoring their actions amounted to “destroying the essence of an organisation.
“What you are saying is that because there are issues with the president, the ANC must cease to exist.”
‘Plot to remove the ANC’
The decision to discipline at least three MPs was taken at a meeting of the national working committee on Monday, dominated by Zuma supporters.
It is estimated that between 30 and 40 ANC MPs supported the motion.
It is understood that members of the NWC labelled it “a plot to remove the ANC from power” and supported Zuma’s weekend calls for those members to face a disciplinary inquiry.
There is a further proposal for the chair of the disciplinary committee, former tourism minister Derek Hanekom, to be removed from the position as his “tweets put him in a difficult position to chair a disciplinary process”.
Hanekom and three other MPs, Pravin Gordhan, Makhosi Khoza and Mondli Gungubele, have openly said they would vote with their conscience.
Hanekom has defended the ANC MPs who supported the motion in his tweets.
On the day of the vote he wrote: “Dispel the notion of voting with the opposition. We must vote against state capture, massive looting and corruption. Vote for change.”
Khoza on the weekend said she had been complicit when she participated in seven other motions of no confidence against Zuma, but decided to break rank “because truth felt better”.
The NWC also decided Zuma must address the parliamentary caucus next week. He had attended the caucus meeting ahead of the motion vote, but did not speak.
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