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WILL ZUMA GO TODAY?

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For the motion to succeed, at least 201 of the 400 members of Parliament will have to vote for it but with the ANC occupying 249 seats, this means that at least 50 ANC MPs will have to vote with the opposition.

Today is D-Day for President Jacob Zuma, who faces a seventh vote of no confidence in Parliament. National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete declared yesterday that it would be a secret ballot, thus posing a far more significant threat to the president than previous votes.Picture: Reuters

FACED with the unenviable choice of whether or not to keep President Jacob Zuma in office, most ANC MPs are likely to vote against his removal in the highly anticipated motion of no confidence today.

This is what some political analysts and ANC MPs said as the country gears up for what could be a watershed moment.

For the motion to succeed, at least 201 of the 400 members of Parliament will have to vote for it but with the ANC occupying 249 seats, this means that at least 50 ANC MPs will have to vote with the opposition.

EFF leader Julius Malema said yesterday the opposition was already hard at work trying to persuade ANC MPs.

“The lobbying will end when they announce that Zuma is no longer president. If Zuma wins, we are going to continue to talk to members of the ANC until they get it right,” said Malema.

However, ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said his party was confident that the motion “just like others before will be defeated”.

He accused the opposition of trying to weaken the ANC and to collapse government.

If successful, the motion will also lead to the dissolution of the cabinet.

Professor Somadoda Fikeni said many ANC MPs have increasingly become wary that removing Zuma may wreak havoc in the already divided ANC.

“They realise that he is president of the party and therefore will want to have a say on who is the next president and thus making the task of choosing the next president a difficult one. And so they are asking questions of whether it would not be easier to deal with this in January when he is no longer in the NEC”.

Fikeni said Zuma’s posture in recent months shows that he is not prepared to go out quietly.

“He basically has nothing to lose but his faction knows that they will have more to lose if Zuma goes. There are already court cases and investigations into SOEs”.

Another political analyst, Professor Mcebisi Ndletyana, said the motion of no confidence offers the ANC a shot at redeeming itself and believes that many MPs will consider this when voting.

Ndletyana said today’s proceedings in Parliament may be a game changer as MPs have the comfort of voting either way without risking any repercussions.

While there are ministers who will vote to keep their jobs, Ndletyana said, those outside Zuma’s faction know they can get re-appointed to cabinet at a later stage and are not too worried.

“The direct beneficiaries of Zuma’s patronage network who depend entirely on him will want to retain him, but those rooting for Cyril (Ramaphosa) have little to lose”.

He said having a new president before the end of the current term of office may be what the ANC needs. “This is the ANC’s best shot at redemption, If they lose this opportunity hell awaits them literally. There is no coming back for the ANC if he stays”.

He said should Zuma be removed and later replaced by Ramaphosa that may help convince voters that the ANC is turning over a new page.

“If he (Ramaphosa) comes in he may start cleaning up house and that will feed into his narrative of renewal.

“In turn that will start preparing ground for an election message.”

Political analyst Bheki Mngomezulu, however, believes Zuma will survive yet again although he believes the margin will be narrow this time.

He echoed sentiments that in the event that Zuma is voted out of office, the transition may not be smooth and the ANC may be plunged into even deeper chaos. “The only reason there was a smooth transition process (when Thabo Mbeki was recalled) was the manner in which he bowed out.

“We cannot say the same will happen now. Both factions are too radical,” he said.

ANC MPs who spoke on the condition of anonymity were also confident Zuma will remain president, saying they will vote to keep him.

“Even if some of us were to vote with the opposition Zuma will still be president because they can’t beat our numbers.

“Some of the opposition MPs have pledged to not support the secret vote because they know the truth,” said a KZN ANC MP.

Another MP said voting Zuma out will only further divisions in the ANC.

“If we say he must go, who then should replace him?

“That would fragment the movement even further as there will now be a fight over that position. It will also lead to the two-centres-of-power scenario we have been trying to avoid”.

SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo said all members of the party who are in Parliament are there on an ANC ticket and are thus not expected to vote with the opposition.