ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu File picture: Bongiwe Mchunu/Independent Media

Parliament - African National Congress chief whip Jackson Mthembu on Friday, dismissed what he called "rumours" and opposition party claims that ruling party MPs would go rogue and vote in favour of a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

The motion, brought by South Africa's biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), and supported by other smaller parties, is set to be debated and voted on in the National Assembly on Tuesday, August 8.

In the wake of some ANC members publicly stating they would vote to remove Zuma, Mthembu on Friday told a media briefing only "bewitched" ANC MPs would support the opposition motion, which he believed would plunge the country into crisis.

"We cannot with our eyes open... assist our nemesis [the DA] to remove our government from power and our Constitution is clear, once you remove the President the government follows so you would have removed [the] government....," he said.

"It will result in the entire cabinet having to resign which will lead to a collapse in government with long lasting ramifications. It will plunge our country into complete political instability and economic uncertainty."

He likened the vote to an atomic warfare.

"Voting in favour of this motion will be tantamount to throwing a nuclear bomb at our country."

Mthembu insisted that ANC MPs would toe the party line.

"We have confidence in our members, that's why as [the] ANC we've said 'bring it on'."

The motion would be defeated irrespective of whether Speaker Baleka Mbete decided the vote will be held via secret ballot, said Mthembu. 

He went to great lengths to defend the ruling party's decision, and went as far as listing how the ANC in Parliament had intervened in the South African Broadcasting Corporation leading to the removal of its previous board and how it had pushed that a decision to reappoint Brian Molefe as Eskom chief executive be rescinded.

Mthembu said they took seriously "legitimate concerns" raised by members of the tripartite alliance, the former public protector, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) and other civil society organisations.

"Concerned South Africans must know that they have an ally in the ANC Caucus and not an enemy," he said.

Mthembu, who last year called on the entire ANC NEC to resign in the wake of last year's local government elections which saw the ANC unseated from power in three key metros, said a vote of no confidence would only benefit opposition parties more by allowing them to "usurp the powers of authoritative party".

He added that the ANC's decision to keep Zuma in power should not be seen as a move to shield Zuma, though opposition parties are likely to argue exactly this during next week's debate.

“Our decision to vote against this motion must therefore not be seen as defending or protecting any individual.”