Yesterday saw two votes of no-confidence discussed in South Africa’s Parliament, one against President Ramaphosa himself and the other against his Cabinet, with both ending unsuccessfully, one on procedural grounds and one failing to pass a sitting vote.
Attempted votes of no-confidence in South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet ended in chaos yesterday, with speaker of Parliament Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula withdrawing one motion from the order paper and another failing to pass a vote amidst what turned out to be a tumultuous seating of the country’s National Assembly in Cape Town.
The African Transformation Movement (ATM) had lodged a vote against President Ramaphosa, alleging that since he came to power, government’s irregular spending and state-owned entity corruption had increased, with ATM having sought a secret ballot. ATM leader Vuyolwethu Zungula declined to have the party’s motion against Ramaphosa move forward, as the party is still attempting to obtain the ability for the vote to be performed by secret ballot through the courts.
“No Member of Parliament may reflect on any case [before the court],” said Zungula during the Parliamentary session. “There is ongoing litigation… There is no way in which we can still proceed with this vote.”
The speaker ruled that the matter would not be proceeded on in Parliament, but instead be pushed to the programming committee to rule on whether it should proceed. National Assembly’s programming committee threw out ATM’s motion this morning, enabling other parties to introduce further motions, but as of now is removed from the Parliamentary roll.
The drama of the day was further magnified by a no-confidence motion in the Cabinet filed by major opposition party the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) John Steenhuisen, citing corruption and lack of energy reform as primary motivations. Several dozen DA members protested outside of the Parliament building, demonstrating in support of the motion.
Steenhuisen had earlier urged MPs to put South Africa first during the vote, stating “Not one of these ministers here would last a day in the private sector, where results matter and accountability is still a thing.”
Another main opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), found themselves unlikely allies with the DA, voting for the motion alongside the United Democratic Movement (UDM), Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) and the ATM.
Despite recent factional battles within factions of the African National Congress (ANC) in parliament, particularly between pro-Ramaphosa and Radical Economic Transformation (RET) factions, ANC MPs were almost universal in voting down the motion, summarily defeating it.
“Honourable members, the outcomes are as follows,” concluded Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli. “There’s one abstention, 131 yes, and 231 no. The motion is therefore not agreed to.”
With two strong votes of no confidence being discussed, both in President Ramaphosa and his Cabinet, as well as yesterday’s Parliamentary session devolving at times into conflict and confusion, Ramaphosa was unfazed. When pressed yesterday on whether he was concerned about the motions during a speech at the 17th National Union of Mineworkers (NUMSA) national congress, Ramaphosa responded: “I am not a Member of Parliament and in Parliament they do all manner of things and I am an observer.”