ANC leaders must now choose between Uncle Kathy’s principles and his party

On Friday we South Africans woke up to another country. South Africa is now a de facto kleptocracy. Jacob Zuma’s mafia, run by the Godfather Guptas, has taken control of our Treasury. 

They have fired the most competent protectors of our national purse, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas, and replaced them with Malusi Gigaba, a sycophant who will hand them the keys to our Treasury, and Sfiso Buthelezi, possibly a compromise appointment, respectively. It was the last desperate gamble of a man with a Gupta gun to his head. Or perhaps a Russian nuclear gun. Mr Zuma is a disgraceful man. He cares nothing at all for the poor and vulnerable, still less for our constitution. He is irretrievably captured by self-serving interests. But they have underestimated us, the people of South Africa. We won’t go down without a fight. And the DA has taken this fight to where it belongs, the National Assembly.

On Thursday, the DA tabled a Motion of No Confidence in President Zuma. This gives ANC leaders one last opportunity to do the right thing. After all, it is the ANC who chooses our president. At all times, he serves only at their behest. The ANC National Executive Committee could remove him today, as they could have removed him on any day since 9 May 2009. But those leaders within the ANC who oppose Zuma and who are not caught up in his parasitic patronage network are in the minority. That much was evident after their failed bid to remove him as President of South Africa during protracted ANC NEC deliberations in December last year. And yet it is important to understand that it is well within their power to fire him. But they will have to find the courage to do so in the broad light of day, in our legislature, where those who want to put South Africa first are in the majority.

This means that these ANC leaders will have to vote with South Africa and against the ANC. Today we call on them to rise to the challenge of true leadership. We call on them to put aside personal and party considerations and act in the public interest. Even if only about 50 or 60 out of a total of 249 ANC Members of Parliament support the motion, it will be enough to force Jacob Zuma to resign, since virtually all 151 opposition MPs will vote against Jacob Zuma’s continued presidency. All that is required to remove him is a simple majority of 201 MPs to support the motion.

That, and for these ANC leaders to do the right thing. In this, they can draw inspiration from a true South African leader who left us this week. Struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada was the embodiment of courage, integrity, selflessness and wisdom. He put the greater good ahead of individual and party political considerations. These are the values that carried South Africa to a peaceful resolution in 1994. And these are the values that must unite South African leaders today in our time of crisis, so that we can tackle our real enemies: poverty and unemployment.

Like his fellow struggle companions, Ahmed Kathrada resonated at an exceptionally high level of consciousness. This has generated a deep sense of loss in all of us. Subconsciously, we feel the powerful gravitational pull of his principles. It was visceral at his funeral on Wednesday, which was not an ANC gathering but rather a gathering of those loyal to his values. There is much to mourn. Not only the man, but the ANC he knew and loved, are gone.

But his values live on and it is loyalty to those values rather than to the current ANC, that holds the solution to our crisis. Uncle Kathy himself realised this. Torn between loyalty to the ANC, and loyalty to South Africa, he chose the latter. In an open letter he penned to President Jacob Zuma after the Constitutional Court judgement on Nkandla last year which found the President to have violated his oath of office, Uncle Kathy wrote and former President Kgalema Motlanthe read at his funeral:

“I have always maintained a position of not speaking out publicly about any difference I may harbour against my leaders and my organisation, the ANC. I would only have done so when I thought that some important organisational matters compel me to raise my concerns.

Today I have decided to break with that tradition. The position of President is one that must at all times unite this country behind a vision and programme that seeks to make tomorrow a better day than today for all South Africans. It is a position that requires the respect of all South Africans, which of course must be earned at all time.

And bluntly, if not arrogantly, in the face of such persistently widespread criticism, condemnation and demand, is it asking too much to express the hope that you will choose the correct way that is gaining momentum, to consider stepping down.”

Each one of the current ANC leaders who hold Kathrada’s values dear have a last chance to make the same choice between the ANC and South Africa, between party and principle, if they truly seek to make tomorrow a better day than today for all South Africans. We know that Zuma will not step down, but the popular movement against him has enormous momentum and firing him is indeed the “correct way” to go, the right thing to do. Uncle Kathy and his ANC are gone, but his values are timeless and all-powerful. They will see us through.

Mmusi Maimane
DA Leader

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