Debate in parliament: Removal of president in terms of section 89(1)(a) of the Constitution

2016-04-05
Dr Pieter Mulder

Speaker,

I want to suggest a statement the ANC can issue today:

“The National Executive Committee of the ANC met over the weekend…

“After careful debate and discussion, the NEC decided to recall comrade Zuma. This was one of the most difficult decisions the NEC has ever had to take in the history of the ANC.

“We fully understand that the decision comes with a degree of pain to comrade Zuma.

“Comrade Zuma has devoted decades of his life to the ANC and our country. The decision to recall him was not taken lightly, but it had to be taken in the interest of making the country move forward.

Madam speaker, I have just read the statement that was made 22 Sept 2008 when the ANC recalled president Mbeki. I merely replaced Mbeki with Zuma. The 2008 Statement was made by Mr. Zuma. Let me read from it again:

“The National Executive Committee of the ANC met over the weekend…

“After careful debate and discussion, the NEC decided to recall comrade Thabo Mbeki. This was one of the most difficult decisions the NEC has ever had to take in the history of the ANC.

“We fully understand that the decision comes with a degree of pain to comrade Mbeki, his family, friends, members of the ANC, ordinary South Africans and members of the international community with whom we interact.

“Comrade Mbeki has devoted decades of his life to the ANC and our country. The decision to recall him was not taken lightly, but it had to be taken in the interests of making the country move forward.

….

“We appreciate the cooperation of comrade Mbeki and the dignified manner with which he has conducted himself during this difficult situation.

“When he met with us the president of the ANC on Friday morning, ahead of the NEC discussion, he said that as a disciplined cadre of the movement he would readily accept and abide by any decision of the organisation and subject himself to its wishes. The ANC prides itself on having leaders who rise to the occasion, who put the organization and the country first, no matter how challenging the circumstances may be.

….

“We would like to underline that we acknowledge and accept the ruling of Justice Chris Nicholson and reiterate that we will, as always, abide by the decision of this and all courts in our country.”

Speaker, what is the difference between this statement from Mr Zuma on Mbeki and the situation today?

The difference is that Mbeki’s mistakes were ten times less serious than the mistakes made by president Zuma.

Mr. Ahmed Kathrada, as an elder leader of the ANC, searched his conscience and offered leadership as to what should be done now in the interest of South Africa.

Mr. Matthews Phosa, as a former member of the ANC’s top six, searched his conscience and offered leadership.

Gen. Siphiwe Nyanda, as MK veteran, searched his conscience and offered leadership.

Today, the ANC members have the opportunity to search their conscience and offer leadership. As members of parliament they, furthermore, undertook an oath to obey and uphold the Constitution, and to fulfil their duties, today also, to the best of their abilities.

Today we have the opportunity to get South Africa out of this constitutional quagmire. If the ANC members miss this opportunity, I predict that it will most certainly become a protracted, painful process that will end in a disaster for Mr. Zuma and in which the ANC itself will suffer ever more damage.

This is also a test to which extent parliamentary members take their oath and functions as members of parliament seriously.

The Freedom Front Plus calls on all parliamentary members to vote responsibly and according to his or her conscience.

When the president is elected by parliament it is in a secret ballot (see Constitution, Annex 3 Section 6(a)). That is why it is only reasonable that voting should take place by secret ballot when it deals with the removal of the president from office (in terms of Section 89 (1)). Such a decision can be taken by Parliament.

If ANC members decide to, once again, ignore the facts of the past week, they are ignoring the Constitution and are not fulfilling their constitutional duties. Take my word for it, history will in a couple of years from now, judge them very harshly and negatively.

 

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