If there was ever any doubt about the need for a secret ballot in the upcoming vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma, it should have been completely removed by the recent acts of intimidation aimed at those perceived to be anti the corrupt Zuma cabal that has divided the ANC and is threatening to bring this country to its knees.
Although the ultimate decision whether to allow the vote to be conducted in secret rests with parliamentary speaker and ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete, it is clear that a secret ballot is the only way ANC MPs – the few with any integrity left, anyway – will be able to vote with their conscience.
Ironically, the ANC isn’t particularly big on allowing people to exercise their democratic rights and their MPs have been told to toe the party line, or else.
If you want to know what the “or else” is, look no further than MP Makhosi Khoza who, for some ludicrous reason, feels she is in parliament as a public representative.
This has spurred her mistaken belief that she is free to speak out about the shortcomings of the ruling party’s leadership, which she did on the sidelines of the ANC’s national policy conference last week.
For her troubles, Khoza was accused of being “extremely ill-disciplined” by ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu and the issue has been referred to Luthuli House for a decision on what to do next (in terms of punishing her, no doubt).
Khoza has also had the gall to call for the secret ballot to be allowed, so that MPs can vote with their conscience.
Naturally, such antirevolutionary sentiments were swiftly met with a few death threats made against Khoza and, more disturbingly, her daughter.
After all, this is how dissent in the ranks is dealt with in a real democracy.
Sadly, there was no quick and harsh condemnation of this by the ANC, which was only moved to making some vague noises about Khoza needing to report the threats to the police – a half-hearted attempt at protecting a parliamentarian whose only sin was to exercise her constitutional right to freedom of speech.
Of course, these despicable and cowardly acts of intimidation against Khoza and her daughter are completely justified to prevent “regime change” – a sinister agenda pushed by unidentified Western powers, who would like to see the ANC overthrown and replaced by I’m not quite sure what.
Anyway, this is the gospel according to Zuma himself, who claims this is the reason he cannot resign.
This would be rather funny if it had not been so tragic and if so much had not been at stake.
So, let us not fool ourselves any longer. Democracy and the Rainbow Nation – as envisaged by Nelson Mandela and others who fought and sacrificed for freedom in this country – are dead and buried.
What we are witnessing now is the entrenchment of a tinpot dictatorship, brutally ruled by an archetypal “strongman”, whose ambitions for absolute power and self-enrichment are enabled by a band of useful idiots, thugs and corrupt funders, who wish to extend their turn at the feeding trough for as long as possible.
And all the while, the country burns.