‘No Witch Hunt’ for South Africa's ANC Vote Rebels, Mantashe Says

  • ANC doesn’t know who backed Aug. 8 motion to remove Zuma
  • Party to discipline lawmakers who spoke out, News24 reports

ANC Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe.

Photographer: Gulshan Khan/AFP via Getty Images

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress won’t try to expose its lawmakers who voted in secret with the opposition in the no-confidence motion against President Jacob Zuma, the party’s secretary-general said.

“There will be no witch hunt for those who voted with the opposition,” Gwede Mantashe said in a post on his Twitter account on Tuesday. “We don’t know who voted what way.”

More than two dozen members of the ANC backed the motion of no confidence in the president on Aug. 8, which the main opposition Democratic Alliance filed after he fired his respected finance minister in a March 31 cabinet reshuffle that caused two ratings companies to downgrade the nation’s foreign-currency debt to junk. The vote was conducted by secret ballot for the first time and the motion was defeated by 198 members to 177.

Zuma indicated at the weekend ANC lawmakers who backed the motion should face disciplinary action and said he may consider firing Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, who has criticized his leadership. The party will discipline three lawmakers who spoke out against the ANC and Zuma in the build-up to the motion, Cape Town-based News24 reported on Tuesday, citing Mantashe.

The South African Communist Party, an ally of the ANC, rejected the call for disciplinary action and reiterated an earlier call for Zuma to resign or be recalled by his party.

“The myopic campaign clothed in the name of discipline is nothing but a factionaly charged agenda,” the party said in a statement on Wednesday.

Cabinet Change

Former Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom and former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, both of whom were removed from their positions in the March cabinet change, Mondli Gungubele and Makhosi Khoza are some of the ANC lawmakers who spoke out ahead of the vote.

Hanekom, who is the head of the ANC’s disciplinary committee, said he wasn’t aware if he was one of the lawmakers to be charged and said public criticism of the party by members who announced their intention to vote in line with their “conscience” did not constitute misconduct.

“If they are charging the people who said they are voting with their conscience, that is not an act of misconduct,” he said by phone on Tuesday. “If they are being accused on that basis, there is no misconduct in that.”

Some ANC lawmakers refused to attend a portfolio committee meeting led by Khoza on Tuesday because she violated the party’s constitution, they said in a letter to Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu, according an emailed statement from his office. Boycotting the meeting constitutes ill-discipline and the members will be referred to the ANC Caucus disciplinary committee, Mthembu said in a interview in Cape Town.

In 2012, the ANC expelled then youth leader Julius Malema who had clashed with Zuma, and he subsequently formed the Economic Freedom Fighters, which is now the country’s third-largest party. Marius Fransman, the ANC’s chairman in the Western Cape province, had his membership suspended for five years in November after he was found guilty of misconduct.

— With assistance by Paul Vecchiatto

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