DA MPs not consulted about latest Maimane stunt

Mmusi's bid to turn up heat after vote is a step too far for MPs

13 August 2017 - 00:02 By JAN-JAN JOUBERT and THABO MOKONE
DA leader Mmusi Maimane has taken flak from opposition partners, who say his latest move is misguided.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane has taken flak from opposition partners, who say his latest move is misguided.
Image: Ruvan Boshoff

DA leader Mmusi Maimane sprang a surprise on his own caucus when he announced a proposal for a motion to dissolve parliament after Tuesday's failed bid to oust President Jacob Zuma.

The Sunday Times can reveal that Maimane and party chief whip John Steenhuisen did not consult their parliamentary caucus before they tabled the motion.

Six DA MPs, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they were "very surprised" when the pair announced the tabling of the motion at a press conference on Wednesday.

The move has been criticised by other opposition parties, the ANC and political and constitutional experts as a futile effort. Opposition parties claimed the move threatened to destabilise the working relations of the opposition in local government as Maimane had not consulted smaller parties.

The matter was privately discussed by DA MPs at a parliamentary caucus retreat in Stellenbosch that ended on Friday.

"It's not really an issue, although some MPs expressed irritation that the idea was not raised in caucus before being announced, leaving MPs to react to voters on something they did not know about," said a DA MP who asked not to be named.

Another MP said that although Maimane's move was necessary, he was taken by surprise. "The leader has the prerogative to make such a statement. Much as I was surprised by it, I think it is the right decision. The looting of this country can't continue."

Maimane confirmed that there were some MPs who raised the matter at the caucus retreat this week. "The bottom line is it was discussed at the federal executive and they came on board. And all MPs are represented at fed-ex through their provinces," said Maimane while dismissing suggestions that the move would unite the ANC and legitimise its claims that the DA wanted to oust it from government.

"People say we are uniting the ANC; yes, the ANC is united behind corruption ... parliament has failed to listen to everyone, including the religious fraternity, the unions and ordinary people," said Maimane.

A DA official close to Maimane said he had tabled the motion because he was determined to keep piling pressure on the ANC and Zuma. Maimane had been buoyed by the fact that at least 30 ANC MPs might have voted to oust Zuma on Tuesday while nine more might have abstained from the vote.

"Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. The idea is to keep the momentum going. The ANC is weak and divided at the moment. We need to continue exposing the cracks," said the official.

"If you look at our polling, it says that 40% of South Africans are tired of the ANC. If we were to go into an election tomorrow, we would be able to push the ANC to below 50%, which would put them in an even weaker position."

Steenhuisen, in whose name the motion was filed, said DA MPs would be failing in their duty if they gave up in the battle to oust Zuma and the ANC.

The attempt is part of a multipronged DA battle to push Zuma out of office, which includes several back-to-back cases due to be heard in various superior courts next month.

Zuma is due to face off with the DA in the High Court in Pretoria on September 12 when the party will seek an order forcing him to institute a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture.

This is despite Zuma's separate high court application to overturn the remedial action proposed by the former public protector in her State of Capture report last year.

Zuma and the DA are also due to take their legal battle to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, where arguments in the case to force the National Prosecuting Authority to reinstate 783 charges against Zuma will be heard on September 14 and 15.

"Being in opposition is a multiproject exercise," said Steenhuisen. "We'll be in court again, challenging the decision to drop 783 corruption-related charges against the president, and have joined - and will be co-financing - the EFF bid to have him impeached."

The EFF, supported by the DA, also fires its legal salvo against Zuma next month, with its case to force the National Assembly to impeach Zuma due to be heard on September 5. The EFF says the assembly failed to uphold the constitution over Nkandla.