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No confidence vote fails
19 Mar 2010

PARLIAMENT — Unsurprisingly, President Jacob Zuma comfortably survived a motion of no confidence yesterday when an amendment motion proposing full confidence was adopted in the National Assembly instead.

Congress of the People parliamentary leader Mvume Dandala, who proposed the no confidence motion, said Zuma “has let us down. He has let Africa and the world down.”

Zuma has failed to live up to the expectations of a broad spectrum of South Africans, he said.

A few examples demonstrate Zuma’s “flagrant violation” of the oath he took when he occupied the highest office.

“It is common knowledge how the president has failed this nation by his repeated risky sexual behaviour, thus weakening the crucial fight against HIV and Aids and setting a poor example.

“He has failed to exercise any leadership over his cabinet, some of whom continue to send conflicting messages on what is acceptable ethical and moral behaviour.

“He has failed to act against approximately 2 000 civil servants who are alleged to have stolen more than R650 million from the public purse. Despite having the Ginwala Commission’s report available to him, he has failed to exercise good judgment by appointing a man of dubious record and poor capability as the national director of public prosecutions.

“He has failed to lead on … accountability to this Parliament by not declaring his assets and liabilities on time, only doing so eight months late and under public pressure.

“This sad reality, rather than any politicking and vengeful vendetta against the president, is why we are bringing this motion before this House.

“The president has by his own wilful conduct and dangerously flawed judgement lost the confidence of this House and the nation. He should do the honourable thing and resign his office,” Dandala said.

Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Athol Trollip supported Cope’s motion, saying Zuma’s actions, or lack of them, have damaged the people’s faith in his ability to properly lead South Africa.

Zuma has simply made too many poorly considered decisions that compromise good governance, Trollip said.

He has also appointed people to key positions as a form of political reward for loyalty to himself and his political and personal battles. They have not been in the best interest of government and do not represent a commitment to excellence.

“More pertinently, the president has failed to provide leadership on matters of principle, failed to provide guidance and direction.

“Leadership is not about appeasing, and compromise for all its virtues can easily be distorted down to a level whereby no hard decisions or direction is possible at all.

“This has often been the effect of the president’s silence and also of his failure to identify what principles are at stake and how best to protect them,” Trollip said.

African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe said Zuma has made the nation “the laughing stock of the world by his carelessness and repeated moral failures”.

He had advised Zuma to “seek counselling and sex addiction therapy as was recommended to [golfer] Tiger Woods, who also had a similar problem of sleeping around”.

“As the president rejected our advice, we have decided to support this motion of no confidence in him,” Meshoe said.

Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille also supported the motion and said the public will no longer be misled by Zuma’s “smile and fake apologies”.

Zuma was not elected to do whatever he wants with impunity and to bring the country into disrepute.

“The public have been extremely patient, but they are tired of hearing your regular apologies. We will no longer be misled by your smile and your fake apologies,” she said.

Speaking in support of the ANC’s amendment motion of full confidence in Zuma, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said that when the ANC elected Zuma as its leader at Polokwane in 2007, delegates knew the party was not getting a “pope”.

“We were very clear in our minds that we have not elected a pope, but a human being with human failings and human frailties like all of us.”

Radebe then launched a strongly worded attack on Cope, accusing it of using Parliament to indulge in “cheap publicity”. An overwhelming majority of South Africans had voted the ANC into power again in last year’s election.

“[Therefore] I’m surprised … that we are gathered here today to entertain the views of a mere 30 people.”

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu also spoke in support of the ANC amendment, and urged that the rules of Parliament be changed so that motions are thrown out if they lack substance or a reasonable prospect of success.

The motion has no hope of success as the ANC holds 65,9% of seats in the Assembly and no member of the ruling party will vote against Zuma, she added.

Sisulu said the ANC has forgiven Zuma for his mistakes.

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