No sooner had the ink dried on the ballot papers in the National Assembly vote on the motion of no confidence in the presidency of Jacob Zuma, than the DA decided to up the ante by proposing a motion to dissolve Parliament and call an early election.
Strategically, the move makes sense, because with the ANC caucus having broken ranks for the first time in eight motions of no confidence – 30- odd ANC caucus members voted in favour of the motion – the ANC is arguably at its most vulnerable since 1994.
Although we do not know the mind of Mmusi Maimane, the strategy may well be predicated on the momentum principle – if the DA moves rapidly, perhaps more ANC caucus members might support this motion than did the last.
For that to happen, National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete would need to agree to a secret ballot, and there is no guarantee that would happen without another visit to the Constitutional Court.
But beyond that, although dissolution is provided for in clause 50(1) of the constitution, it is unlikely to enjoy as widespread support as the DA might like to believe. Why?
All of a sudden, this is no longer just a bunch of ANC caucus members losing their jobs for voting in favour of a motion of no confidence in their boss. The entire National Assembly will lose their jobs, and have to fight for a place at the table, two years earlier than anticipated.
How that will play out is uncertain, but it is possible that some smaller parties with only one or two seats will not make the cut, and with the anticipated shift in poll achievements of the major parties, the conflict for
a place on party lists will be brutal.
Add into the mix that the SACP might choose to contest the election on its own, and the reality that the ANC no longer enjoys the unqualified electoral support of Cosatu, it is probable that the ANC caucus will be quite a bit lighter after a snap election.
Logic dictates that the ANC needs as much time as possible before the next election to stem the haemorrhaging of electoral support which reared its head last year, so why on earth would the average ANC caucus member risk the consequences of an early election?
And let’s not forget the fundamentally fallacious ANC
narrative of regime change, which it deployed successfully last week.
Whereas a successful motion of no confidence in terms of constitutional clause 102(2) would result in the resignation of the entire executive, the rest of the National Assembly remains intact, unless a new president is not elected within 30 days.
A successful motion of dissolution means the entire National Assembly loses their jobs, including the entire ANC caucus.
Although both motions of no confidence and dissolutions are constitutionally provided for, it is axiomatic that the ANC will ratchet up its narrative of regime change, in the hope that the dialectic sleight of hand attributed to Valdimir Ilyich Lenin – a lie told often enough becomes truth – prevails.
This motion of dissolution has the potential to do the opposite of what it purports to do – encourage the ANC to close ranks in the face of a perceived opposition attempt at regime, rather than unseating a president who has single-handedly done more damage to this country than any other individual since the dawn of our democracy.
If you were a member of the National Assembly, would you support a motion of dissolution?