What do we make of Tuesday night’s no-confidence vote victory by President Jacob Zuma?
Was it, as DA leader Mmusi Maimane claimed, a hollow one, because so many of Zuma’s own people voted against him? Or was it confirmation that the majority of ANC MPs still support him, state capture and corruption claims notwithstanding?
This, the eighth no-confidence vote the president has faced, was the closest one yet, with a mere dozen MPs the gap between him going or staying. The opposition in parliament may crow – as did the EFF’s Julius Malema – about having dealt the ANC a body blow, but the victory underlines the reality that Zuma’s hand is still firmly on the rudder of the ANC ship.
The real losers on Tuesday night were not the opposition parties. Those whose cause was set back most by Zuma’s triumph were his opponents within the ANC.
The number of votes cast in favour of Zuma by ANC members indicated that his opponents have thin support within the organisation.
That lack of support among the structures of the party will be critical in December when the ANC holds its much-awaited electoral conference and anoints a successor to Zuma as ANC president.
That successor will, if the ANC wins the 2019 polls, go on to become the president of South Africa.
The vote has given the Zuma faction’s candidate, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, even more momentum and she may be unstoppable at the December conference.
Another worrying factor is that the vote proved the Zuma faction is accountable only to itself, not the nation.
There seems slim likelihood that the allegations of state capture will even be investigated. We fear that all Tuesday’s ballot did was set the track signals to green for the accelerating ANC gravy train.