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'We are not ready for Zuma to leave'


Factional dynamics weigh heavily on which way ANC MPs will vote in



By Qaanitah Hunter and others, Sunday Times, 6 August 2090


President Jacob Zuma's detractors are backing down from their threat to vote
with the opposition in parliament, fearing the prospect of an early general
election or Zuma anointing an acolyte to succeed him.


ANC leaders and MPs this week told the Sunday Times they would toe the party
line and vote against the scheduled motion of no confidence against the
president because they believed Zuma's removal would result in his faction
frustrating efforts to have a successor elected by parliament, which would
necessitate a general election.


Zuma's supporters in the national executive committee, the ANC's highest
decision-making structure between conferences, made it clear last week they
would not support any candidate outside their camp if the president was
booted out by parliament.


Even SACP-aligned ANC MPs who had threatened to abstain from voting in the
motion of no confidence now say they will close ranks as they are convinced
the Zuma-controlled NEC would not allow for a smooth transition.


An influential NEC member said last week's lekgotla reinforced the fact that
Zuma's camp remained powerful and would frustrate any move to have the
president replaced by a candidate from outside his inner circle.


Leadership crisis


"What will happen is that he will be removed ... then the NEC would have to
decide who to put there [as president], he will be in charge of that," said
a senior ANC member.


It was "almost certain" that, if Zuma was removed, the ANC would not find
consensus on who would replace him.


Another NEC member said the Zuma camp made it clear during the lekgotla that
the party would descend into deeper turmoil if some of its MPs made good on
their threat to vote with the opposition.


"This is what they said in the NEC: 'If you are going to allow these others
to vote the president out, then we are not going to support your
president,'" said the NEC member.


"So we are not ready. It is a crisis. That is why we have to defend the
president up until we are ready because now we are not ready.


"We are divided ... We will not agree about any candidate. So, we are not
going to allow our public representatives to vote according to their
conscience. In South Africa we have what we call party government - people
[vote] ... for political parties and we deploy our ambassadors to the
legislatures," he said.


Zuma's cabinet would have to resign if the motion succeeded in the National
Assembly. National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete would become acting
president for 30 days, within which parliament would have to elect a new
president from among its members.


"If the president is voted out, there is concern that those who are close to
him may not vote for the candidate that will be proposed, especially Cyril
[Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa]. That would mean the ANC would not agree
on a candidate while the speaker acts.


"That would be a massive problem because the failure to agree on a
candidate, as soon as possible, would force an election to be called,
meaning the ANC would have to contest elections in a divided state," said
another NEC member.






































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