ANC motion of no confidence: All for one, and one for all
In unity already exists the idea of division. We speak incessantly of unity in politics because we realise that there are constantly competing schools of thought, interests and with it ever shifting alliances. For unity there must be separate parts to hold together. The extent then to which a party or organisation is united, is not to be measured by the absence of different parts, but rather how well those parts hold together.
The outcome of the motion of no confidence last night reveals two insights: either the factions have united or the anti-Zuma faction at its fullest count is no more than 20% of the parliamentary caucus. Out of 384 MPs, 177 voted in favour of the motion, 198 against it with 9 abstentions. Much of the narrative to immediately emerge was that 'Zuma is weakened', the 'ANC is split' or the 'ANC is divided.
This cannot be an analysis of the vote I witnessed, in the vote I witnessed over 80% of ANC MPs chose to keep Zuma as president. That is assuming at the top end that 40 of the 177 votes against Zuma were from ANC MPs, and that all 198 votes in support of Zuma were also from ANC MPs. Many leaders would be lucky to receive such numbers. It is a resounding vote of support. If the ANC caucus is divided, as many opposition parties have been quick to shout out, it is at a ratio of 5:1. For every 1 MP who wanted Zuma out at least 5 others wanted him in.
Perhaps international examples might help focus our minds on how staggering a victory for the ANC this is.
Compared to other leaders who have experienced discontent rise up within their caucus Zuma is holding up well. In the United Kingdom, in 2016, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn faced a vote of no confidence among Labour MPs. Also held by secret ballot, 172 Labour MPs voted in favour of the no confidence motion, with only 40 against and four abstaining from the vote. In other words more than 80% of Labour MPs signalled they no longer had confidence in their leader.