Parliament – A motion by the Democratic Alliance (DA) to dissolve Parliament was defeated by an overwhelming majority on Tuesday, with other opposition parties describing the attempt at early general elections as "opportunistic" and "grandstanding".
Put to a vote, the motion saw only 83 MPs vote in favour of it, with 229 voting against, and seven abstentions.
Introducing the motion, DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said “madness” had beset the ruling party under the rule of President Jacob Zuma.
“This Parliament should be the front line of defence for the people of South Africa. Instead at every twist, test and turn, it has chosen president over people, party over principle, executive over example, and collusion over our Constitution.”
Steenhuisen argued that the August 8, no confidence motion which was defeated even though some African National Congress members sided with the opposition, was proof that Zuma was not the problem, but the ruling party itself.
“On the back of Nkandla, the State of Capture report, the 783 charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering. Despite his picking off of the good men and women in your party, one-by-one. Despite his driving away excellence and inducting incompetence,” said Steenhuisen.
“You, apart from some brave men and women on your benches, who saw the madness and tried to end it, chose instead to own him. The ANC had an opportunity to do right by the People and our Constitution and stop the madness, but now you have become it.”
ANC MP Richard Mdakane described the motion as “bizarre” and another attempt by the DA to grandstand and attempt to “grab power undemocratically”.
“Support for this motion will amount to disrespecting the will of our masses who voted for the ANC,” he said, citing the DA had “only won over 22 percent of the vote in 2014”.
“The ANC is mandated by 62 percent of South Africans to serve this country.”
He pointed out that DA leader Mmusi Maimane, who tabled the motion, was not even present during the debate, inferring it was a sign of disagreement within the DA caucus.
“You are pushing something you don’t even agree with. Even if we going to vote secret ballot you will be surprised, 40 percent of you will vote against it.”
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), the National Freedom Party, the United Democratic Movement (UDM), and the Freedom Front Plus, and the African Christian Democratic Party described the DA’s motion as irrational and opportunistic, saying while they agree that under Zuma the country has suffered, dissolving Parliament was not the answer.
EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu appealed to the DA to let the ruling party “destroy itself”.
“They would have finished each other once they arrived at the national conference,” referring to the December conference which will elect a new ANC leadership.
IFP MP Narend Singh said the motion to dissolve Parliament would lead to a hung National Assembly and was akin to “cutting off our noses to spite our faces”.
“Undoubtedly the writing is on the wall, but the writing is not for us. It was written for the ruling party. We need to afford them the space to act in the best interest of our country…”
The UDM’s Nqabayomzi Kwankwa said the mechanisms in the Constitution should be used responsibly and not as “political playstations”.
FF Plus leader said the country simply could not afford to have early elections and that, with only limited resources, the Electoral Commission of South Africa would not be able to “ensure free and fair elections.”