The Democratic Alliance (DA)’s bid to force early elections through the dissolution of the National Assembly was resoundingly defeated on Tuesday, and also saw the party come in for a tongue-lashing from smaller opposition parties over its tactics.
The DA tabled the motion in the wake of the defeat of its motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma in August when a number of African National Congress (ANC) Members of Parliament (MPs) used the secret ballot to vote for his ousting.
Smaller parties were opposed to the DA’s latest motion from the outset and Tuesday’s debate gave them a chance to vent their anger.
The Economic Freedom Fighters’ Floyd Shivambu first took aim at the ANC’s argument that the motion was a power grab that would undermine the will of the voters who put it in power.
“It will actually be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the ANC to rescue itself from the current crisis.”
Shivambu then let rip at the DA for tabling the motion without a mandate from fellow opposition parties.
“You must not take the fact that we allow you to lead critical motions for granted. Don’t undermine us, don’t undermine other political parties, don’t undermine the EFF in particular.”
While the smaller opposition parties noted the damage being done by President Zuma’s leadership, they didn’t agree that early elections were the solution.
The EFF, Inkatha Freedom Party, National Freedom Party, United Democratic Movement, African Christian Democratic Party and the Freedom Front Plus all deserted the DA, while Congress of the People said it would abstain.
A number of smaller parties raised concerns about having to mount election campaigns at short notice, while some questioned the readiness of the Independent Electoral Commission to run them.
When it came to the vote, there were 229 votes against, only 83 in favour and seven abstentions.