The panel had found that the president might have committed impeachable offences, writes MOLIFI TSHABALALA.
It appears that September is a major precedent-setting month in the South African political calendar. Fifteen years ago, for example, the faction-ridden African National Congress (ANC) recalled Thabo Mbeki nearly nine months before the country’s fourth democratic elections and replaced him with Kgalema Motlanthe. The recall amounted to a bloodless intra-party factional coup.
In all fairness to the ANC, it acted within the purview of its constitutional prescripts. That is, it could recall Mbeki as its deployee in government. However, it should not have prevented him from discharging his constitutional responsibilities until his resignation had become effective.
Nearly a decade later, Jacob Zuma got the taste of his own medicine in February 2018 when the governing party replaced him with Cyril Ramaphosa, just over a year his term of office could come to an end. Had Ramaphosa failed to secure a second term as the ANC president at the 55th National Conference, held in December 2022, he would have been recalled as well.
In fact, with the ANC holding its elective conference over a year prior to the general elections, the prospect of his recall prior to the 2029 general elections looms large.
On Monday, 11 September, yet another major precedent was set when the National Assembly (NA) impeached the suspended Public Protector (PP) Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Overwhelmingly, 318 out of 362 Members of Parliament (MPs) voted for her impeachment with one abstention.
In itself, the impeachment was long overdue; she should have long been impeached. As I point out in ‘Race for PP, A Critical Analysis of Why Ramaphosa Prefers Gcaleka,’ she was a factional deployee. She was deployed to not only protect Zuma and his factional coterie from accountability but also fight their intra-party factional battles to be more precise.
However, her impeachment would not inoculate the PP’s office from a putrefactive disease of intra-ANC factionalism, not by a long shot.
Given that the precedent has been set, it is very unlikely that Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka will finish her seven-year term of office as well. As I point out in the foregoing opinion piece, she appears to be a factional deployee, whose future hinges on her report on the Phala Phala scandal, which involves the president.
In it, Gcaleka absolved Ramaphosa of any wrongdoing, thereby going against a Section 89 Panel. The panel had found that the president might have committed impeachable offences. If a court of law reviews and sets aside her Phala Phala report, then parties that voted against Mkhwebane’s impeachment, especially the African Transformation Movement (ATM) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), would push for hers as well.
If the ANC’s electoral support further drops to below 50 per cent in the forthcoming general elections, then she is unlikely to finish her term of office.
Therefore, the PP’s office should be inoculated from the putrefactive disease of intra-ANC factionalism.
***Tshabalala is an author and independent political analyst.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Republic Mail and its associates.