Christian leaders plan to meet all 249 ANC MPs face-to-face to urge them to vote according to their consciences and not along party lines in the anticipated motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma, says the South African Christian Leadership Initiative (SACLI).
The no confidence debate, originally scheduled for Tuesday April 18, has been postponed by the Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete, following an application by the DA for the date to be pushed back to give the Constitutional Court time to determine whether the motion can be determined by secret ballot.
The Constitutional Court yesterday issued dates for parties in the matter to file documents following an application by the United Democratic Movement (UDM) for a secret ballot in order to enable ANC MPs to vote freely without fear of punishment by the party leadership which has warned MPs to toe party lines. The Consitutional Court application was made after Mbete turned down a secret ballot request by the UDM.
In an open letter to ANC MPs on Monday, SACLI, on behalf of nine Christian denominations and organisations, pleaded with ANC MPs to vote with their conscience in the no confidence debate, saying they held the future of the country and the party in their hands. The ANC holds 249 out of 400 seats in the national assembly.
“You stand at a crossroads where you can either choose to continue to put the country through its current trauma or you can choose hope, and to focus on the common good, by ensuring this president is removed as soon as possible,” SACLI said in a statement, reports News 24.
Nelson Mandela Bay
In Nelson Mandela Bay church leaders have also called on ANC MPs to “do the right thing” and stand up against the president. An open letter signed by 10 senior Nelson Mandela Bay Christian leaders states: ” ANC members of Parliament, we remind you of your high calling to protect the Constitution and to serve the interest of our citizens, especially the vulnerable and the poor. You literally hold the future of our country in your hands. You stand at crossroads where you can either choose to continue to put the country through its current trauma or you can choose to focus on the common good by ensuring that the president is impeached as soon as possible.”
Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle last month and the subsequent fallout has sparked widespread protest action around the country by political, civil society and church groups, concerned about corruption and state capture. In the latest in a wave of protest action Gauteng police say about 30 000 people took part in a National Day of Action march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria today — Zuma’s 75th birthday.
In its open letter SACL accused Zuma of pursuing narrow and corrupt self interests with reckless disregard of the economic consequences of his actions which would compromise the poor and raise unemployment.
“The president should embody something of the common aspirations of our people, but instead he is tearing society apart by his seeming unbridled greed and pursuit of self-interest.”
“The gains made before are being reversed before our eyes. Those who have always believed that black or African leadership would be disastrous for the country are feeling that they are being proven right,” Reverend Moss Ntlha said, reports News 24.
“We know that this is not true and that we have excellent leaders within the ANC, but President Zuma is not one of them.”
SACLI said it was still hopeful as it approached Easter, but had words of warning for the ruling party.
“Many of us have consistently voted for the ANC but if something very, very urgent is not done about this president, you will give us no option but to desire that others serve us in parliament.
“We do not say this lightly, but we want you to understand the gravity of this moment. You saw what happened in the metros last year, and we want you to think about what it might mean on a national level.”
SACLI said it would try to meet each ANC MP personally ahead of the no-confidence motion.
Former president Kgalema Motlanthe last week said it was not misconduct to vote against Zuma: “Those people are not hirelings of the ANC. They are public representatives… They can’t be treated the same way as you treat an ANC branch.”
Yesterday, former president Thabo Mbeki said MPs did not have to vote according to party lines in the motion of no confidence. They had to act as the voice of the people, not of their party, he wrote in a letter published in The Star.