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Parliament - The ANC will block the opposition's attempt to have a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma debated in the National Assembly.
The African National Congress's parliamentary caucus met on Wednesday to discuss the proposed motion, ANC Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga said.
“There was unanimous agreement that this is a frivolous motion, which has nothing to do with Section 102 and Section 89 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, which deals with the removal of the president from office.
“The motion of the opposition about the alleged violation of the Constitution by President (Jacob) G Zuma is without foundation and cannot be supported by fact,” he said.
Last week, Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko gave notice in the Assembly of a motion of no confidence in Zuma.
The motion was brought on the grounds “that under his leadership the justice system has been politicised and weakened; corruption has spiralled out of control; unemployment continues to increase, the economy is weakening, and the right of access to quality education has been violated”.
The motion was “mandated” by eight opposition parties, including the African Christian Democratic Party, the Azanian People's Organisation, Congress of the People, Freedom Front Plus, Inkatha Freedom Party, the United Christian Democratic Party, and the United Democratic Movement.
Motshekga said it was not the first time that the opposition had tabled such a frivolous motion.
“Problematic and frivolous as the 2010 motion of no confidence was, we agreed to it (then) to prove and make a point to the sceptical detractors that we are committed to parliamentary democracy and that this movement never shies away from a debate.
“Indeed, we emerged with flying colours from that debate and Parliament reaffirmed its confidence in the president,” he said.
However, it was cause for concern that Parliament should be abused with a “flurry of frivolous motions which are motivated by nothing other than a desire for cheap publicity”.
It would be a complete travesty and an unsustainable precedent to allow a frivolous motion, which was based solely on spurious allegations rather than facts, to be afforded the dignity of consideration and debate by Parliament.
“The motion by these opposition parties, which they know as anyone else its chances of success are zero, seeks to try the president in a court of public opinion and tarnish his image and that of the ANC in the media.
“If these opposition parties want a president of their choice, they should wait for the elections in 2014; we will be ready to contest them.
“Caucus has therefore unanimously decided to oppose the programming of this motion on the order paper of the National Assembly,” Motshekga said.
In a statement later, Mazibuko called the ANC's decision “both unprecedented and unconstitutional”.
“The DA has already submitted an urgent letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Max Sisulu, who chairs the National Assembly Programming Committee urging him to intervene and schedule this vote.
“As the head of the legislative arm of the state, Mr Sisulu must take every step available to him to ensure that the Constitution is respected and its provisions given effect to.”
A motion of no confidence was provided for in terms of the Constitution, as a mechanism available for members to test the confidence that the House had in a sitting president.
Since the president was elected by the National Assembly, it was also given the right to withdraw its support at any time through a majority vote.
“To block this vote would be to violate this provision explicitly and set a precedent whereby the ANC can prevent the National Assembly from holding the president accountable, as the Constitution envisages,” she said. - Sapa