Non-vote: MP faces ANC wrath


ben turok

INLSA

Professor Ben Turok. Photo: Cindy Waxa

Veteran ANC MP Ben Turok could face disciplinary proceedings by the ANC after publicly explaining why he broke party ranks and did not vote for the Protection of Info Bill on Tuesday.

His party colleague, Gloria Borman, who also abstained, may be carpeted too – but Turok is the focus of the ire of furious ANC MPs, some of whom on Wednesday demanded that a special caucus meeting be held on Thursday and that swift action be taken against the party stalwart.

Turok slipped out of the chamber just before the voting started on Tuesday, returning later.

For this he might have got away with a slap on the wrist from caucus officials, who had imposed a three-line whip on ANC MPs.

However, Turok went on to explain his stance on SAfm on Wednesday, during which he urged the passage of the bill be delayed for further consideration.

His suggestion that some of his party colleagues may have voted blindly for the bill is understood to have enraged some caucus members.

Unusually, official comment on Wednesday came from ANC national spokesman Jackson Mthembu.

“The conduct of comrades like Ben Turok in raising their objections by abstaining (sic) and using the media smacks of ill-discipline and will be handled internally by the ANC,” Mthembu said.

ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga was on Thursday night in a meeting of the party’s political committee, which includes Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu.

ANC caucus spokesman Moloto Mothapo singled Turok and Borman out on Wednesday as the only MPs who did not have “legitimate” reasons for not voting according to the party’s line on Tuesday.

Borman told Independent Newspapers her conscience had not allowed her to vote for the bill.

A former DA politician serving her second term as an MP, she said while the bill was not “the evil piece of legislation it’s made out to be” she believed it would hinder the fight against corruption.

“I prayed long and hard and I voted with conscience,” Borman added.

Turok told Independent Newspapers he too had acted on principle – and suggested there had not been nearly enough thorough debate and discussion of the bill or its implications within the ANC.

 

He had taken an oath on becoming an MP to be loyal to the country’s constitution and his position as co-chairman of Parliament’s ethics watchdog, the Joint Committee on Members’ Interests, involved “an examination of ethics across the board”, he said.

Given the many amendments made to what was a complex and contentious piece of legislation, it had been difficult to keep track of changes – despite caucus briefings by ANC MP Cecil Burgess and State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele.

“I would be very surprised if any member of caucus – and I consider myself one of the more diligent – has kept up with changes in the bill,” he said.

“I think the ANC must sit down and discuss it (the bill) very carefully, line by line – because it is political legislation, it does affect the democracy we want and the constitution,” he said.

Turok – who committed himself to upholding the image of the institution when he was appointed in February – has been party to tougher action against errant MPs.

The committee laid a complaint with the public protector about axed co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Sicelo Shiceka, and slapped the maximum possible punishment on ANC MP Yolanda Botha in the wake of a kickbacks scandal.

With the ANC Youth League complaining about unfairness and inconsistency in discipline, the MPs’ action creates a major dilemma for the party.

Turok, who was instrumental in helping draw up the Freedom Charter and who also served time in jail under apartheid, was scheduled to appear on Newsnight with Jeremy Maggs on Wednesday night, but failed to do so. - Political Bureau


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Ali, wrote

IOL Comments
03:47pm on 24 November 2011
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With so many cries of "foul" against this bill, clearly there's something wrong - and this must be a lesson. This is not the first time govt had to pass a bill into law, but Minister Turok said its the first time that everybody, including all opposition in parliament sung one chorus and acted exactly the same way, that must have persuaded him to act against his party! This must be telling the ANC something, esp that they konw how disciplined a member Ben is! Tjhe balance need to be found between what ANC say its in the interest of all S.Africans and the genuine fear of S.Africans! The question is does the country really need such a law? There is one already in place passed in 1982, but which the ANC describge as "apartheid-linked" and has a narrow view! Ben says this bill need more discussion and consultation within the ANC itself, there is no need to rush! Now for those outside the ANC who don't really understand how it works, but rely on the media are at a big disadvantage here "ignorance" but they still comment as if they know! And most use derogatory words or insult but that reflects on them! @Anonymous said "democracy has many trade-offs...". The bottom line is that the public does not want this bill in its current format and the ANc must listen to that, why rush "consult the public", that is all!

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A person who can read, wrote

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02:52pm on 24 November 2011
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The MP's that blindly vote for this bill can not read. There is no requirement when voted into office to be able to read. That is a problem and should be corrected. Then it will make sense to say "Proudly South African" So lets get these MP's educated.

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100% Kullid, wrote

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01:22pm on 24 November 2011
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There is no difference between the ANC and the NP.

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Steve (Centurion), wrote

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01:05pm on 24 November 2011
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In future, If you say that this or that government minister is a useless waste of space, you will be arrested and two charges will be laid against you: you will be charged with insulting the minister and secondly you will be charged for revealing state secrets!

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Anonymous, wrote

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11:24am on 24 November 2011
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The ANC prove every day over and over they are not fit to run a spaza shop never mind a country. They are all so dirty, deceiving and disgusting. The day is coming when these "men" will be hunted down and face the same fate as Gaddafi. Lets hope its sooner rather than later, maybe then we can live in peace, without racism, hatred and being stolen from every day. Lets face it the ANC is a hatred machine, spreadin fear, racism and illiteracy. Without these the ANC could not stay in power.

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Michael, wrote

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11:10am on 24 November 2011
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It's called DEMOCRACY - where an individual can make up their mind and chose based upon their conscience. The ANC's Dictators Club does not have a knowledge what democracy or conscience means! Welcome ANC-Ruled Apartheid!

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kalahadi, wrote

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11:08am on 24 November 2011
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ANC-re-incanation of George Orwell's Animal Farm

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tzME, wrote

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11:06am on 24 November 2011
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I Salute you sir. Your action is a reflection on those nobody's in the ANC who did'nt have the guts! And nobody's no matter if it goes up to Deputy President!

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Lacri, wrote

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10:52am on 24 November 2011
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@tony ??? You seem to be replying to somebody else.

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FreeSA, wrote

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10:44am on 24 November 2011
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Turok has supported the ANC through most of his life and now the ANC will make him suffer for it. That's the best you can hope for as an ANC supporter. It is now a criminal organisation that runs on lust, greed and violence.

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Lee, wrote

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10:36am on 24 November 2011
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The ANC is showing their TRUE COLOURS - and it is NOT PRETTY. They are a DICTATORIAL organization who do not TRULY uphold their "marketing" blurb of "OPENESS, DEBATE, FREEDOM etc etc". "Together we can"!? Yes, "Together we can FORCE and ENFORCE OUR will on the people of SouthAfrica"!!

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:35am on 24 November 2011
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I am afraid to say it is all downhill for the country from here..i am getting tired of all the corruption and being governed by people with the intelligence of a 12 yr old. I will go back overseas with pleasure as many of you indicate people like me should that have a problem with corruption. Good luck ! Your kids will have to live with your actions oneday.

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Sinies, wrote

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10:37am on 24 November 2011
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Clearly the members of parliment represent the will of the parties' top structures and NOT the people who vote! Toe the line of the powermongers in the parties or be sidelined. Failed system! ... This is the feeding ground for serious frustrations ... Completely top down system bound to end in catastrophe.

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:24am on 24 November 2011
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Lets put our emotions to one side for a second. I do not support this bill, and I applaud these MPs for their courage. However, in any party-political system, anywhere in the world, if an MP goes against a whipped vote, they will face consequences from their party, and I am sure these MPs fully expected it. In South Africa, where we have list-based proportional representation, the political party has more power than in a traditional constituency based system, and rebellion would thus be more harshly punished. However, if you cry for a traditional constituency based system, you should be aware that it largely benefits smaller and opposition parties in South Africa. Democracy has many trade-offs.

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Precious, wrote

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10:21am on 24 November 2011
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It should have been a secret vote, things would have been different. The ANC members had to vote for their bosses or else they would get punished ;just as these two will be. Never mind, we welcome them into the enlightened society of free thinkers. With out a "public interest "clause this will lead us into a police state. Neighbour will tell on neighbour, we will all live in fear. 25 years in prison is pretty scary. We have the right to know what our government gets up to. They are paid by our taxes, you and I, those mindless ANC followers are living in the Apartheid era of "masters" and "slave" , I am sure that there are many Turoks and Bormanns in our midst. Come out, wherever you are and lets hear you. PLEASE.

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Frank Hartry, wrote

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10:06am on 24 November 2011
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I agree with Lacri. The members of parliment are a complete waste of taxpayers money and the voting procedure in this Info bill definitely illustrates this. South Africa is not a true democracy because we taxpayers who pay huge salaries to these parasites do not even elect them. It is all jobs for pals.

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:05am on 24 November 2011
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democratic vote ?

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tony, wrote

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10:05am on 24 November 2011
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@ Tshepo & Lacri - You really are not the brightest bulbs on the christmas tree are you, the anc does NOT pay their salaries and expenses, you and me and the rest of the taxpayers pay their salaries, therefore their vote should represent the taxpayers views and not a bunch of racist corrupt officials who want the truth about their illegal activities to be hidden behind apartheid style legislation.

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Caledon, wrote

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10:05am on 24 November 2011
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People. Please take note of "anonymous's" comment at 08:40. Read it. Then read it again carefully. You fools are propagating racial divide. It is one thing to attack the policies of the ANC, but quite another to attack your fellow countrymen and insult them on the basis of their skin colour. And to others: Please understand that an attack on the ANC is not necessarily an attack on black people (and it never should be). The ANC has always based its political initiatives on ideology, it is the ideology, and the political moves born as a result thereof that people argue against. I encourage readers to read the following article: http:www.sairr.org.zasairr-today-1research-and-policy-brief-revealing-the-master-plan-what-the-anc-has-in-store-for-south-africa-28th-september-2011. Please, consider this with an open mind as I suspect that most will take issue with the writer's race. Be that as it may, the writer's academic qualifications are rather exceptional. Remember that we are in this together. *IOL please post this comment*

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Kim, wrote

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09:51am on 24 November 2011
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Viva Ben Turok and Gloria Borman for abstaining from voting for this bill. It is good to see that some of our leaders still have the courage of their conviction. We do not need leaders who follow blindly and can't think for themselves. There is no such thing as "one line". We need critical independent creative thinkers who can steer this country to become a true democracy and the developmental state the ANC claims to be working towards.

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