The African National Congress has warned that party MPs risk being fired if they vote with the opposition in a motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma in Parliament.
“There is no ANC member who will vote for an opposition motion, that will be uncharacteristic of the ANC,” secretary general Gwede Mantashe said.
The warning comes amid claims by opposition party leaders that ANC members had contacted them, claiming that they would support the Democratic Alliance motion for a vote of no confidence in Zuma.
Opposition parties have dared ANC leaders dissatisfied with Zuma to vote with their conscience instead of toeing the party line.
Several senior leaders — including Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu, former Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom and Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi — have called on Zuma to go.
The SACP, which has several MPs in Parliament, including Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, also called for Zuma to step down. This has been supported by other alliance member Cosatu.
Mantashe said there was no notion of voting with conscience in the ANC.
“What do you think the ANC is, Father Christmas?” Mantashe said. “I don’t know where this notion comes from that we are a collection of individuals who have conscience. We are members of ANC in a party political system.”
“No army in the world allows soldiers to be commanded by enemy general.”
Zuma’s reasons accepted
Mantashe said the DA itself had fired its own councillors who did not follow the party line in a council vote.
Mantashe was addressing the media on Wednesday at party headquarters Luthuli House, in Johannesburg, following the party’s extended national working committee meeting on Tuesday.
“If you say we will recall Zuma because opposition say that, it won’t work,” Mantashe said.
He said the party had accepted Zuma’s reasons for firing Pravin Gordhan, and that it was a mistake for party officials to differ in public over the Cabinet reshuffle last week.
Mantashe, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Treasurer General Zweli Mkhize had publicly criticized Zuma’s decision to reshuffle his Cabinet, saying they had not been consulted.
The trio said the list was written “elsewhere.”
Mantashe told the media that Zuma had informed them in November 2016 that he was planning to fire Gordhan, but they persuaded him to wait.
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