Columns 18.4.2017 05:31 am

Fear to dictate ANC MPs’ vote in motion of no confidence

President Jacob Zuma attends a luncheon for world leaders during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York, New York, USA, 20 September 2016.  EPA/PETER FOLEY / POOL

President Jacob Zuma attends a luncheon for world leaders during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York, New York, USA, 20 September 2016. EPA/PETER FOLEY / POOL

The fear of losing a comfortable job as an MP is enough to persuade most ANC MPs to remember where their supper comes from.

Those who do right get punished and those who do wrong are celebrated.

That is the society in which we live today. Those words were uttered by none other than the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, Julius Malema, soon after he was expelled from the ANC.

Although his expulsion was premised on the grounds that he had brought the party into disrepute, the truth of the matter was that he had dared to stand up to Jacob Zuma.

At the time, Malema was no media darling, having played the effective useful idiot in bringing Zuma to power.

Malema has apologised for his role in the recalling of Thabo Mbeki and levelling the road that lead Zuma to power, but that came a little too late.

That Malema saw that only those who do right get punished and those who do wrong are celebrated was not a road to Damascus revelation, it was a road he himself had travelled with pride.

He teased Mosiuoa Lekota and Mbhazima Shilowa when they broke away to form the Congress of the People.

He teased them, repeating the oft-repeated refrain “it is cold outside the ANC” when they warned everyone that the constitution of the country was under threat from President Zuma and his supporters.

But his voice had been jaded by years of singing the praises of the same man he now wanted people to turn against.

When the vote of no confidence is debated in parliament, there will no doubt be many parliamentarians who form part of the majority of the ANC who will be going through the same motions that Malema did when he left the ruling party.

They will know in their hearts that the right thing to do for the country is to hand Zuma an early retirement package and send him off to Nkandla to enjoy the palatial estate partly built on taxpayers’ money.

But these parliamentarians will know that when you do right you get punished. That has become the way of the ruling party.

Bantu Holomisa and the UDM have decided to take on the rules of parliament that state that a vote of no confidence in the president has to be decided on by a show of hands, that immediately shows who voted for and against the motion.

Whether the ConCourt rules for or against the rules of parliament, it is clear for everyone to see that the primary weapon of the Zuma administration is that of fear.

At the most basic level, the fear of losing a comfortable job as an MP is enough to persuade most ANC members of parliament to remember where their supper comes from.

But if one was to dig a little deeper, it would become very obvious that the fear is not only limited to loss of material benefits that come with the job, it is a pervasive fear that goes into the heart of how this one man has managed to capture not only the state but the heart of the ruling party, too.

It cannot be that three of the party’s most senior leaders in Gwede Mantashe, Cyril Ramaphosa and Zweli Mkhize publicly come out and condemn his Cabinet reshuffle and hardly a week later turn around and say in one voice, “we were wrong to do that”.

Only fear can do that to seasoned leaders such as these. That fear has turned them into cowards.

Sydney Majoko.

Sydney Majoko.

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