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Mapisa-Nqakula shows loyalty to Mbeki

Published Sep 24, 2008


By Angela Quintal

Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Tuesday proved that she was in deed one of "Thabo Mbeki's people", choosing loyalty to the president over party discipline, when she broke ranks with other ANC MPs in parliament over his resignation.

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Ironically, the woman, who Mbeki was accused of shielding at all costs by refusing to fire her, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, was among the cabinet ministers who decided not to take a stand and to toe the party line.

Mapisa-Nqakula, a former ANC Women's League president who lobbied unsuccessfully for Mbeki's third term as party president, was the only ANC MP on Tuesday not to vote in favour of a resolution providing that Mbeki's resignation is effective from Thursday.

This will coincide with the election of ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe as the country's president.

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Even Mbeki's main lobbyist at the Polokwane conference in which he lost to Jacob Zuma, Deputy Defence Minister Mluleki George, accepted the inevitable and voted in favour in the National Assembly.

However, he made his point in another way by resigning as both deputy defence minister and MP, with immediate effect.

Mapisa-Nqakula's husband, Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula, also voted yes, as did his education counterpart Naledi Pandor, Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica, Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Lindiwe Hendricks and Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya.

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These were the only cabinet ministers present in the house during Tuesday's voting, which the Freedom Front Plus successfully forced on the Assembly to ensure that the president's resignation was not merely rubber-stamped.

Other deputy ministers present in the house who toed the party line included Johnny de Lange, Derek Hanekom, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, Gert Oosthuizen, Roy Padayachie, Susan Shabangu, Nomatyala Hangana, Sue van der Merwe and Elizabeth Thabethe.

MPs are not directly elected to parliament, but hold their seats by virtue of their political parties, which means that if they break ranks, they face possible discipline.

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After Tuesday's vote, Speaker Baleka Mbete declared that 298 MPs had voted yes, with a mere 10 opposition MPs voting no.

The abstention was not formally noted, but it is understood that Mapisa Nqakula herself drew attention to the omission, which the electronic system had captured. She was unavailable for comment.

Two years ago and in the middle of the party's succession battle, where Mbeki was still believed to be powerful, then ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe, caused a storm when he tried to get MPs to pledge loyalty to Mbeki and the ruling party.

In what was viewed as a red rag to a bull at the time by Zuma loyalists in the caucus, Goniwe stated: "Under normal circumstances all of us should hold our heads high and proclaim without any fear that yes, indeed we are all President Thabo Mbeki's people. He is us and we are him."

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