Is this “a better live?”

Posted in Editor's Viewpoint

Words and phrases such as “the country is going to the dogs” “is there no control anywhere anymore?” were often heard since it came to light recently that Brian Molefe - the front man positioned as CEO of Eskom by you know who? - was going to get a golden handshake of R30 million. This follows Molefe’s resignation in November last year after he was seriously implicated in the report on State Capture by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. 

Eskom and the Molefe legacy

Posted in Editor's Viewpoint

Ask anyone today what they think of Eskom and you can bet on it you will hear more or less the following: As a Gupta-owned company, sorry - this should read an SA Government parastatal, - Eskom is an excellent example of a company operating on such as huge budget - literally billions annually, that is doesn’t really matter who the company CEO is or how the company’s track record is regarded by the public - shortcomings can always be “rectified” later...

Which fate awaits Zuma?

Posted in Editor's Viewpoint

Well, as expected just about “everyone” is up in arms about President Jacob Zuma’s reshuffling of Cabinet and in particular, the dismissal of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Ncebisi Jonas last week.

Predictions that South Africa’s economy will be facing a downward spiral has already materialised in the Rand weakening against the Dollar and other foreign currencies while it was announced on Tuesday that Standard and Poors has indeed, after months of speculation, downgraded the country’s economy to junk status (which means that foreign capital and investments in the country are in the balance, if not totally out of the question).

Even from previously unheard sources (the Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa amongst others) came strong objections to the dismissal of Gordhan.

What can South Africans expect from the latest moves and in addition to a number of protest marches and demonstration, is there anything that could happen or could be initiated that could lead to the President’s removal? What are the options with regard to the DA’s proposed Vote of No Confidence in the President, or the EFF’s hope to impeach the President?

Obviously these battles will have to be fought in Parliament and “South Africans can take it for granted that President Zuma reckons that he will be able to ride out the storm and survive the rest of his term”, Professor Roger Southall, Professor of Sociology at the University of Witwatersrand says in an article on “The Conversation”.

Southall says there are two options for challenging Zuma in parliament. The first, a vote of no confidence in Zuma, and the second, favoured by the smaller EFF - impeachment of the president.

He says “the opposition’s best option is to seek a motion of no confidence in the President (rather than Cabinet - the other option also provided for in the Constitution). The relevant paragraph in the Constitution reads as follows: “If the National Assembly by a vote supported by the majority of its members, passes a motion of no confidence in the president, the President and the other members of the Cabinet and Deputy Minister must resign. (Chapter 5, paragraph 102 (2).

Were this motion to pass, there might be various outcomes according to Prof Southall.

One might be that the ANC as ruling party would present another candidate to Parliament for election as President for the rest of the electoral term ending in 2019. It might also lead to an early election or thirdly, would passage of such a motion impose an absolute bar on the president returning to the presidency were he to cling on to the leadership of the ANC?

But what are the chances for this to happen? This depends, on whether the DA can muster enough support to secure a majority. The ANC has 249 seats to the opposition party’s 151. So, the DA has to pick up 50 seats from the ANC to secure a majority. But given that Zuma is likely to be able to pick up a handful of supportive votes from the smaller parties favouring an Africanist agenda, it is more likely that the DA would require at least 55 (even 60) MPs to vote for its motion (abstention would not enough).

According to Southall, the requirements for the EFF to win an impeachment motion are even more daunting. For a start, they would require a two-thirds rather than a bare majority. They would require 264 votes which in practice would mean at least 70 ANC MPs to vote against Zuma.

To make the impeachment case, they would further need to justify the grounds for removing Zuma from office by convincing the National Assembly that Zuma has committed a “serious violation of the law” or is “guilty of misconduct”. It might be obvious to those who want to see the back of Zuma that he is guilty of both violating the Constitution and of misconduct.

“But given the compromised standing of virtually all sitting ANC MPs in allowing Zuma to get away with blatant abuse of the Constitution, this would require that any dissident 70 or more of them would have to eat a good dose of humble pie”, Southall concluded. Let’s wait and see - the cards are almost on the table...

Wat hou die toekoms vir Zuma in?

Ja, soos ons verwag het, is die land in rep en roer na president Zuma se afdanking van finansminister Pravin Gordhan en terselfdertyd ‘n omvattende kabinetskommeling.

Bespiegelinge dat die rand weer gaan tuimel en die land se ekonomie op ‘n afwaartse koers kan gaan, het intussen gematerialiseer in die rand se weliswaar verswakking teen die dollar en ander eenhede, maar erger nog, Standard & Poors se afgradering van SA na rommelstatus.

En om dit reguit te stel, Zuma is slae beloof - maar gaan dit hierdie keer gebeur? Wat is die kanse dat president Zuma hierdie stryd gaan verloor en op watter manier al dit moet geskied?

Wel, dit is ‘n uitgemaakte saak dat dit in die parlement sal moet afspeel. Daar is basies slegs twee opsies, sê professor Roger Southall, professor in sosiologie aan die Universiteit van Witwatersrand in artikel wat onlangs op “The Conversation” gepubliseer is.

“Beide is om Zuma in die parlement te konfronteer. Die eerste, by wyse van ‘n Mosie van Wantrou in die president soos deur die Demokratiese Alliansie voorgeskryf en die tweede - om die president in ‘n staat van beskuldiging te plaas soos die kleiner EFF voorstel. Southall sê die opposisie se beste kans is die Mosie van Wantroue in die president. Die Grondwet maak ook voorsiening vir ‘n Mosie van Wantrou in die Kabinet.

‘n Mosie van Wantrou in die president wat deur meerderheid in die parlement gesteun word en wat slag, sal daartoe lei dat die president en sy hele cabinet in terme van die Grondwet moet bedank.

Maar wat is die kanse vir hierdie opsies om te slaag?

Dit hang af of die DA dit kan regkry om genoeg steun vir ‘n meerderheid te kry. Die ANC het 249 setels teenoor die opposisie se 151. Dit beteken dat die DA nagenoeg 50 setels sal moet wen/oortuig om ten gunste van die mosie te stem.

Maar dit sal harde oortuiging verg - onthou - afwesigheid sal niks vir die DA beteken nie. Aan die ander kant sal dit vir die EFF nog moeiliker wees om te slaag in hul pogings om die president in ‘n staat van beskuldiging te plaas. Om mee te begin, vir so-iets om te slaag benodig hulle ‘n tweederde-meerderheid, eerder as ‘n enkele meerderheidstem.

Die EFF sal met ander woorde 264 stemme benodig wat beteken dat hulle omtrent 70 ANC parlementslede sal moet oortuig om vir hulle te stem. Boonop sal hulle die redes vir die verwydering van die president deeglik moet motiveer deur aan te voer dat die president ‘n ernstige oortreding van die grondwet begaan het en verdermeer aan ‘n oortreding skuldig is.

Prof Southall meen egter dat daar ook rekening gehou moet word met feitlik alle sittende ANC parlementslede se huiwering om teen Zuma op te staan en hom toe te laat om met blatante skending van die Grondwet weg te kom.

Dit beteken dat nagenoeg 70 ANC parlementslede hierdie keer anders sal moet stem as wat hulle by enige vorige geleentheid gedoen het - belis nie ‘n maklike taak nie...