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ON Tuesday, the ANC in Parliament rejected the DA’s motion of no-confidence in President Jacob Zuma by 198 votes to 177.

Roughly, 40 ANC MPs voted to fire Zuma, but still the overwhelming majority supported the president again and kept him in office.

They did this despite the damage Zuma is doing to South Africa with every passing day that he remains in office.

It is clear the South African public has lost confidence in Zuma and are fast losing confidence in the party that sustains him in power. We had hoped the ANC would do the right thing and fire Zuma.

When a government clearly has lost the mandate on which is was elected, it should seek a new mandate, or let a different party win and govern. This is how democracy works.

That is why the DA has proposed an early election..

The way in which Zuma effortlessly captured crucial institutions of democracy by deploying cadres loyal to him is testament to this oversight. It’s also the only reason he has not yet stood trial on hundreds of charges of corruption.

But that doesn’t mean these drafters had no premonition of a president or government losing its way.

There is a clear provision in the constitution that allows voters to go back to the polls before the end of a five year-term of office, should there be sufficient reason to believe that the government no longer represents the will of the people or no longer acts in their interest.

Zuma has sold our country out to corrupt individuals for personal gain. Although the ANC occupies 249 of the 400 seats in Parliament, it is not the legitimate government millions of South Africans thought they were voting for three years ago.

Section 50 of our constitution makes provision for this very situation by allowing the people to re-elect their government without having to wait for the full five-year term to lapse. It states that a majority in Parliament can call for an early election, as long as at least three years have passed since the last. And this is what the DA has called for in the wake of the no-confidence vote.

Coup d’etat

The fact that the ANC describes this action, along with our motion of no confidence, as attempts at regime change - calling it a coup d’etat - paints a grim picture of its understanding and its acceptance of our country’s democratic processes.

And as the DA is not the only or first party to table a motion of no confidence - Cope and Agang did so in the past - it is also not the first to call for early elections.

The EFF didn’t have a sufficient grasp of the constitutional requirements to do so when it proposed it in November, as the minimum three years had not yet lapsed. And its suggestion of mass resignations to trigger the collapse of the National Assembly is also an embarrassing misread of Sections 46 and 50.

But the point is, their intention to hit the reset button by replacing our failed government in early elections was clear and correct.

We need to do whatever our constitution permits to end this disastrous chapter in our country’s history. We believe the will of the people will send Zuma’s ANC packing.

We cannot simply go on with our day-to-day lives as though this government under Jacob Zuma is legitimate.

We cannot withdraw ourselves from democratic processes because the ANC has stopped playing by the rules.

We cannot ignore the will of the people just because it appears difficult.

And we certainly cannot wait until 2019.

* Mmusi Maimane is the leader of the DA, the official opposition party. 

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

SUNDAY TRIBUNE