National Assembly Debate
On a Motion of No Confidence

 

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP President of the Inkatha Freedom Party
 

National Assembly: 18 March 2010

 

It is important that this Motion of No Confidence be debated in this House.

The IFP does not support the motion, but we support COPE's right to bring it, because it is an important exercise in democracy. Debates and decisions about the President ought to be made in this House, and this House alone.

 

It is regrettable that the President has not appreciated the importance of this debate by gracing it with his presence. It is also regrettable that our Rules have not yet been brought into compliance with the Constitution and best parliamentary practices requiring the voting on this motion to be by secret ballot, as it is for the election of the President.

 

Today we assert how the President and his Cabinet serve at the pleasure of the Members of this House who have the ultimate right to fire both, and the duty to do so when necessary. If we fail to use the powers the Constitution gives us to hold the President accountable for his shortcomings, we become equally responsible for them, for the Vote of No Confidence empowers us all to rectify problems. This debate should be part of such a process.

 

As I stated in the debate on the State of the Nation, I accepted our President, warts and all, and pledged my personal support to ensure that he does not fail because the country cannot afford it. The times are too dire, the challenges too great and the risks too frighteningly high for us to undermine the Commander-in-Chief at this juncture. But he must perform, and perform soon.

 

This debate offers the opportunity for us all to qualify our support to the President by defining what we expect of him, failing which a subsequent Vote of No Confidence may have a different outcome.

 

At this juncture we pledge our support to the President, giving him the benefit of the doubt after only nine months in office. We will keep a tight monitoring brief on his progress, especially in respect of his stewardship in getting us out of the economic crisis and building a competitive new industrial basis, while creating employment and addressing crime and corruption.

 

We want to see firm and immediate actions, starting from this nonsense of hate speech which he has allowed in his ranks. The singing of the "Kill the Boer" song destroys whatever has been achieved by way of reconciliation. It destroys Madiba's legacy, which is our joint legacy.

 

As time goes by, we may reassess the situation. Although I hope this will not be the case, it could be that the next Motion of No Confidence may be moved by me, if the President disappoints the expectations that history has gathered around his person.

 

This occasion should also prompt us to reflect again on how much better off our Republic would be if the offices of Head of State and Head of Government were to be split into a President who does not get involved in the daily work of government and a Prime Minister who governs, as contemplated in a pure parliamentary system.

 

In fact, it is likely that the Presidency will continue to become the lightening rod on which the growing tensions of our society will concentrate as long as the status quo remains, and its undermining will weaken our Republic. A Vote of No Confidence passed on a Prime Minister as Head of Government would not weaken the Republic if the President as Head of State remained unaffected by it. After all, he is our President. But this dual role of Head of State and Head of Government will continue to make him vulnerable as long as this remains the case.