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Zuma debate: Pressure mounting on Mbete

Politics
Parliament - National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete is facing heightened pressure to urgently convene the sitting of Parliament to debate a motion of no-confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

Opposition parties said on Tuesday that the pressure is growing due to threats of more downgrades by ratings agencies Fitch and Moody’s after the latter warned of a review downgrade.

This followed a downgrade to junk status by ratings agency Standard & Poor’s this week after a cabinet reshuffle that saw the firing of finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebesi Jonas.

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National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete File picture: Denis Farrell/AP

Opposition parties said on Tuesday that Mbete would have to set a date for a debate in Parliament after completing her consultation processes.

Spokesperson for Parliament Moloto Mothapo said Mbete had not concluded the consultation process.

But he said Mbete was committed to considering the request by the opposition parties for a debate on the motion.

“The Speaker has committed to starting the consultation process. Remember she said this will be done swiftly. We can’t give a blow-by-blow account of the consultations,” said Mothapo.

The EFF, DA and UDM have asked Mbete to reconvene Parliament for the no-confidence debate. They said the downgrade to junk status by Standard & Poor’s Global this week was a setback and has made it urgent to discuss the removal of Zuma from office.

This comes as the next credit rating by the two remaining ratings agencies were shifted back by a few months. Moody’s was expected to announce its results on Friday but yesterday said it would happen in the next 30 to 90 days.

It earlier warned it would review South Africa for a downgrade following the abrupt change of leadership in key government positions.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said Mbete had no choice but to call for the special sitting to debate the motion of no-confidence against Zuma.

“Mbete committed to consulting with the leader of government business (Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa) and the chief whip (Jackson Mthembu) on 2 April, and has surely done so by now. All that remains is for her to schedule a sitting,” said Steenhuisen.

“The time has arrived for Mbete to put the institution of Parliament before the president she slavishly shielded from accountability during previous crises,” he said.

Political Bureau

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