Mmusi Maimane, Julius Malema and other opposition leaders on Tuesday urged African National Congress (ANC) MPs to vote to oust President Jacob Zuma from office and to see the vote of no confidence in him not as an attack on the ruling party, but on a kleptocracy that has corrupted the state.
In closing the often boisterous debate, Democratic Alliance leader Maimane urged ANC MPs: “Act courageously, vote for this motion!”
He said a vote with the opposition was not a call for “regime change” as pro-Zuma speakers had said, but for accountability.
Earlier, Malema said the Economic Freedom Fighters were imploring ANC MPs to understand that the opposition was not trying to overthrow a democratically elected government but to rid South Africa of a president who had handed power to the Gupta family, thereby letting unelected persons dictate to government.
“Ours is not against the ANC, but against the father of Duduzane, because Duduzane’s father is the most corrupt individual in this country,” Malema said.
“We have a problem with the Cabinet getting reshuffled by people who are not elected,” he said, insinuating that Zuma was doing the Gupta brothers’ bidding when he sacked Pravin Gordhan as finance minister at the end of March.
Malema then went on to urge ruling party MPs to think of their legacy when they cast their ballots after the debate.
He said the party had bled support at the polls in 2016 for not acting against Zuma over the Nkandla scandal.
“Can you imagine what is going to happen in 2019 if you continue the way you are here?” he asked.
“Your conscience will remain with you, you are writing your own history as you sit here.”
Turning to Cyril Ramaphosa, he added: “Deputy president, you are writing your own history.”
Maimane had also singled out Ramaphosa, as well as Gordhan, whose sacking prompted the opposition to bring the motion, and his former Cabinet colleague Derek Hanekom, asking whether they would vote with their conscience.
The ANC fielded deputy chief whip Doris Dlakuda and Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa to argue against the motion. Mthethwa accused the DA of harking back to apartheid, at which he was heckled by the EFF.
The DA demanded a division, at which Speaker Baleka Mbete ordered the bells to be rung before MPs cast their ballots.
Voting booths were brought into the National Assembly for a secret ballot, which she had announced in a surprise move on Monday.
It raised opposition hopes that ANC MPs would defy a three-line whip to back the motion.
– African News Agency (ANA)