Confident?

It’s a potential watershed day for South Africa today. Yet another no confidence vote on our rotten president in Parliament, but this one has an edge on the previous versions in that it’s a secret ballot. And the opposition parties even had to go to court to get that ‘concession’.

Albeit that the ANC has slowly been losing ground in our comparatively young democracy, it still holds a huge majority. So at least 20% of the ANC MPs must vote against Zuma in order for the motion to pass (assuming that all the opposition MPs also vote that way, which seems (mostly) likely).

JZ and his people have worked hard – in various ways – to ensure that they are well supported within the party. There’s clear evidence of corruption and wrongdoing, but a lot of ANC MPs are involved in those nefarious acts, or they’re willing to overlook them, or they simply don’t care. Previously, anyone from the ANC sticking their anti-Zuma head up above the parapet has been swiftly dispatched, so the secret ballot is an important step. But then what personal reward is there for being on the right side of history if you’re voting anonymously?

Will it be enough to succeed? Probably not, but I’m not sure that anyone actually has any idea. Apart from the fact that the vote might be quite close, there could be individuals who are saying one thing and doing the other – to the benefit of either side. It’s politics, hey?

Here’s how a secret ballot happens in the RSA Parliament.

And if it succeeds, what happens then? This.

If a vote of no confidence is successful the President and the entire Cabinet will have to resign. The Speaker becomes acting president. The NA must (within 30 days) elect a new president from among its members.

So Baleke Mbete as Acting President. Frying pans, fires.

And if it fails?

Personally, I think it will be a bigger blow for the opposition parties that they’d like to admit. This is definitely their best chance yet at removing JZ, and they seem to have high hopes. Of course, they’re going to talk up their chances, but when you put that public face on, you have to publicly accept the consequences if or when things don’t go your way.

That said, every time there’s a no confidence vote in Zuma, it damages and fragments the ANC further, and so they will surely go again. The ongoing danger is that by next time, the ruling party has worked out which MPs voted against Zuma and has moved to… remind them of their party “obligations”, and realign them with the JZ faithful.

There’s an air of expectation over Cape Town today. It feels like a big day. It feels like things could change. But no-one is willing to stick their neck out and call it just yet. Personally, I think that there’s no chance of the vote succeeding, but I’m just a humble bacterium wrangler and world famous blogger, not a political expert. And I really have no problem with being wrong on this one. None at all.

 

It isn’t, are you?

Left-leaning UK Facebook is knee deep in election propaganda at the moment. A lot of it centres around the assertion that Theresa May “is evil”: a convenient strawman argument, distracting us neatly from the fact that in the real world, Jeremy Corbyn’s policies are laughably pie-in-the-sky, laughably costed and seemingly aimed at making the UK a complete no-go zone for business.

But how do we not know this already? We read the papers, don’t we? Why haven’t they told us about Theresa’s nastiness?

Well, as further posts tell us “The Media Is Biased!”. The fact that people need telling this sort of thing is rather worrying, but still…
I’m not denying that the The Media Is Biased!. Of course it is. But that Media Bias! swings both ways – something that all the The Media Is Biased! posts seem to forget to tell us.

So, now that we’re a global community, and you might find yourself reading a UK newspaper website from overseas, let me just quickly fill you in on what to look out for with a quick guide to the usual suspects.

The Sun: Owned by Rupert Murdoch, right-of-centre.
The Mirror: Left-of-centre tabloid.
The Times: Another Murdoch paper, ex-broadsheet.
The Telegraph: aka The Torygraph. Pro-Conservative broadsheet.
Daily Mail, Daily Express: Right of right, gentile fascism. Horrendous.
The Guardian: Left-wing, liberal, ‘intellectual’ paper.

But then there’s one more, quite popular newspaper called The Independent. It used to be a part of the Dead Tree Press, before going online only from last year. And, because of its name, and its infamous motto:

…you can probably already guess at its lack of political affiliation.

But be careful, because this, as the quote goes, is “the biggest misnomer since Pussy Galore”. With each of those other papers, you get to make your own mind up, there’s no hint of which way they’re going to try and sway you. And of course, you should never believe everything you read anyway.
But please, when it comes to The Independent, don’t let your critical standards slip, just because of the title.

On voting

When the UK PM called a general election recently, I spotted this line on Facebook:

Please god let the “great” British public stay in bed and let the rest of us make a sensible decision.

…which, you know, is a bit demeaning to a lot of people who might not happen to share the same point of view as you do.

The individual in question voted Labour in the last election (they lost) and voted to remain in the EU in the recent referendum (that side also lost). Since then, that person’s timeline has been a cascade of anti-Conservative (they won) and anti-Brexit (also a winner) stories and articles.

And that’s fine. Each to their own.

Really, my only problem comes when “Remainers” protest about the steps that the Government have taken towards the UK leaving the EU. Yes, the referendum was a close run thing, and there are probably lessons that we could learn from that when running future referendums, but it still finished 52-48. That means that a majority of people voted to leave the EU, and thus, the Government should be taking steps to do so. That’s what referendums are for. That’s how they work.

Look, I’m sorry for you that there weren’t enough people sharing your point of view to swing the vote in the way that you wanted. Democracy can be a real bummer when more people vote the other way.

But then imagine, if you will, that the Remain vote had won 52-48 (or whatever). If more people had voted to keep the UK in the EU. Imagine then that the UK Government had ignored that majority and gone ahead with Brexit anyway.

Pandemonium! And rightly so!

Having asked the question and got the answer, how could the powers that be drive their fat political steam roller over the wishes of the British people?

And yet that’s exactly what you’re demanding must happen, simply because the result didn’t go your way. Simply because “the ‘great’ British public” chose to wake up that day and spoke their mind.

No. It’s entirely reasonable that the Government do what the majority of the public demand. Whether you like the decision or the Government or not.

But I find this idea that your side holds some sort of intellectual or moral high ground over the other simply because the viewpoints don’t agree is rather pompous and actually counterproductive. Some people argue that it’s one factor as to why Trump won the US election.

But to be honest, for me, it’s less about the collective effect of these sorts of protest (which has been negligible anyway) and more about me finding out a bit more about people I know on Facebook. And that’s no bad thing either.

On UK politics

As Helen Zille puts foot firmly into mouth with her “Colonialism wasn’t ALL bad” tweet, thus conveniently removing the spotlight of the SASSA scandal from the rotten and rotting ANC, I spotted this on twitter this morning.
Not sure whose words, but… well… yes.

Yep. It’s free rein for the Conservatives at the moment. Theresa May could poo on the front lawn of Buckingham Palace on live TV* and she’d still win the next election by a landslide. Helen Zille? Not so much.

* not a campaign suggestion.  

Political Results

Dotting i’s and crossing t’s.

Barbara Fielding of the Abolish Magna Carta Reinstate Monarchy Party polled 137 votes in the Stoke-on-Trent by-election.

That put her in sixth place behind Labour (7854), UKIP (5233), the Conservatives (5154), the Liberal Democrats (2083) and the Green Party (294).

Barbara finished ahead of The Incredible Flying Brick, who was representing the Monster Raving Loony Party (127), and the candidates from the BNP (124) and the Christian People’s Party (109). Independent Mohammad Akram brought up the rear with 56 votes.

137 votes represents 0.6% of the vote.

Prime Minister not yet, Barbara.