Opinion

Conscience, integrity and the national interest must win the day on Tuesday

06 August 2017 - 00:00

MPs meet in parliament on Tuesday for what will probably be the most important vote they have cast since 1994. South Africa has arrived at a fork in the road. President Jacob Zuma, elected to protect the country's sovereignty, has almost driven it over a cliff.
He has committed treasonable acts. There's no kinder or gentler way to put it. He has wilfully betrayed the country whose interests he has sworn to uphold. Those who've abetted him are complicit in this grave act of betrayal. They too are traitors. They've betrayed our trust and defiled and desecrated our dreams.
South Africa, for generations a skunk but then brimming with promise for a while, has become the laughing stock of the world, increasingly mentioned in the same breath as Zimbabwe and Venezuela, basket cases where governments steal elections, opposition leaders disappear in the dead of night and children are likely to go to bed without a crumb in their stomachs. The wheel has turned full circle. We're on a slippery slope, again.
All because of one man. Some argue that Zuma cannot be held solely responsible for the ills that blight this land and that getting rid of him won't solve all our problems.It's a fair comment. But without Zuma the country would certainly have been spared the embarrassing incompetence of a Bathabile Dlamini, the shameless corruption of a Mosebenzi Zwane and the bumptious ignorance of a Faith Muthambi, for instance. These and other dishonourable stooges are sitting around the cabinet table thanks to the man at the top.
But that is the least of his evil deeds. If we thought Nkandla was a terrible crime, state capture is in a different league altogether. The audacity and impertinence of it boggle the mind. A president gives a foreign-born family license to appoint senior officials and politicians to key positions, who then open doors and steal from the state on the family's behalf. It's hard to wrap one's head around this. How can such a thing be allowed to happen?
And Zuma of course remains a suspect, a fugitive from justice. The only reason he's not behind bars is because he's the president. He's been able to abuse the levers of power to stay out of prison. And we, the public, are paying all his legal fees. That's a bitter pill to swallow.
What also sticks in the craw is the fact that Zuma doesn't think he's done anything wrong. He's not at all remorseful. In fact he thinks he's doing a darn good job, for which the public should be eternally grateful. In other words, left to his own devices, he'll continue with his vandalism, wreaking even more havoc.
Zuma needs to be stopped before he does even more damage. A heavy burden, then, lies on the shoulders of MPs. They've disappointed us so many times in the past. They dare not do so now. When courage was called for, they chose cowardice. They displayed neither backbone nor principle. The needs of their stomachs were more pressing than the interests of the country.MPs must realise that in voting against the motion of no confidence they will not only be saving Zuma's bacon, they will be dragging their own reputations in the mud. Is Zuma worth sacrificing your reputation for? Will that be the highlight of your career?
The ANC argues that MPs are in parliament to represent the party. That's hogwash. They've been despatched to serve a nobler cause. They are public representatives. They were voted in by the public to represent their interests.
It's interesting that the ANC, in its attempt to corral MPs to go against their consciences, is not even trying to make a case for Zuma's innocence. It realises the evidence is incontrovertible.
But despite Zuma's culpability the party wants MPs to go against their consciences. MPs have been reduced to mere messengers and slaves of the party. They aren't supposed to have minds of their own, let alone consciences. It's coercive and goes against all tenets of democracy. It's a dictatorship of the elite.
It's time parliamentarians disabused the party of that silly notion and voted for the motion. Just because the party has sold its soul does not mean that MPs should do likewise.
Young soldiers are allowed to disobey what they consider to be unlawful orders. If there was ever a time to disobey the diktat of the party, it is now.
Of course there are those who'll stick with Zuma through thick and thin. They have a lot to lose if he goes. But there's a sizable number on the government benches who've long toiled without any appreciation and who hate what Zuma has done to their glorious movement.
Now is the time for them to stick in the knife - as it were - with some relish. What's more, it will be the patriotic thing to do.

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