19 October 2017

South Africa: The Teflon Presidency - Where Motions of No-Confidence Don't Stick

Photo: The Presidency/IRIN
President Jacob Zuma (file photo).

President Jacob is living up to his title of Teflon president for his ability to survive no-confidence votes brought before Parliament by opposition parties.

Despite accusations of corruption and misleading parliament on expenditure at his family home at Nkandla and the damning State of Capture Report by then public protector Thuli Madonsela, the African National Congress' (ANC) bid to keep him in power until 2019 is succeeding.

A vote of no-confidence - if successful - will mean the immediate resignation of the president and the entire Cabinet, with the Speaker of the House becoming the head of government until the date for a new general election is determined. The ANC has the majority in Parliament though, and there will have to be numerous "defections" for that to happen.

The following gives a breakdown of the number of no-confidence motions that were voted on, amendments and withdrawals during the Zuma presidency.

Motions of No-Confidence voted on:

March 17, 2015
March 01, 2016
November 10, 2016
 August 08, 2017

1 No-Confidence Motion amended:
March 18, 2010

1 No-Confidence Motion withdrawn:
March 03, 2015

March 17, 2015
A motion of no confidence in President Zuma was brought by the leader of the Democratic Alliance Mmusi Maimane.
The reasons for calling for the motion:
Independent institutions of the state were politicised and weakened
Unemployment rate escalated to unprecedented levels
Economy at weakest point in history
Right of access to quality education has been violated, and
Corruption has spiraled out of control

March 01, 2016
In all his motions, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane has stated that Zuma's 'irrational, irresponsible and reckless leadership had done immeasurable damage to the economy, eroded investor confidence, dramatically weakened the rand, and placed fiscal and economic stability at risk'.
Lost 225 – 99

November 10, 2016
This motion of no confidence was proposed by the leader of the opposition Mmusi Maimane.
He moved that:
Important institutions of state was captured by private interest – this as the Gupta family influence was revealed in former public protector Thuli Madonsela's State of Capture Report.

That state resources, notably state security, law enforcement and prosecuting authorities have been mobilised to shield those interests from public scrutiny and investigation

That the president has allegedly attempted to evade accountability to the public protector and frustrated her efforts to fulfil her constitutional mandate; and

The derelict leadership that resulted in a collapse of public confidence in the president of the Republic of South Africa, a government at war with itself and that this ultimately had undermined efforts to restore confidence in the South African economy."

August 08, 2017

The first time the no-confidence vote  was held by secret ballot after opposition parties when to court for a ruling. The court decided that the Speaker of the House  Baleka Mbete should decide. The vote was held in secret but still lost, albeit by a narrower margin when 26 ANC MPs voted with the opposition and the witch hunt for those party 'dissenters' began.

198 votes against, 177 for and nine abstentions

No-Confidence Motion Withdrawn

March 03, 2015

A motion of no-confidence in Zuma was proposed by Agang SA member of parliament‚ Molapi Tlouamma. This was withdrawn‚ after the MP asked Speaker Mbete refused to recuse herself from presiding over the debate around the vote.

No-Confidence Amendment

March 18, 2010
It might have been forgotten but the Congress of the People was the first opposition party, under the leadership of Mvume Dandala, that proposed a motion of no confidence in the president for his "failure to live up to the expectations of a broad spectrum of South Africans". The African National Congress' Ngoako Ramatlhodi moved to amend the motion to state that "the house has full confidence in the president of the Republic of South Africa and appreciates his leadership of the government and nation" and that "the House has full confidence in the president".

242 members of Parliament voted in favour, 83 voted against and 6 abstained. The motion, as amended, was agreed to.

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