The ANC chief whip says the party’s latest ploy has exposed it, and he condemned his own rogue MPs for supporting the opposition.

The African National Congress on Wednesday said the Democratic Alliance’s plans to bring a motion calling for early national elections showed that it did not respect the will of the people and was intent on “regime change”.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said earlier the motion would be tabled on Thursday, two days after the ANC majority defeated an opposition motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

“This confirms the correctness of the ANC in voting against yesterday’s motion,” the office of ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said.

“This move by the DA exposes what the ANC has always stated, that the motion of no confidence in President Zuma is not about the president, but an attempt at regime change through parliament.

“This planned motion by the DA shows that the DA does not respect our democracy and the electorate of South Africa. They have no regard for the will of the people as expressed through the outcomes of the 2014 general elections where 62% of the electorate gave the ANC a mandate to govern this country until the next general elections.”

Mthembu’s office said the ANC would defeat the latest motion as it had this week’s attempt to have Zuma removed from office.

The outcome of the vote, held by secret ballot, was 177 in favour and 198 against, with nine abstentions.

It means that at least 26 ruling party MPs voted with the opposition.

Mthembu said it was sad that they had colluded with the opposition to destabilise the ANC.

“We are deeply disappointed that some of our ANC members allowed themselves to be used by the opposition to fracture and weaken the ANC and destabilise our country.

“Our political nemesis and adversaries have shown that they will use any means to achieve their narrow political ends and the fact that some of our comrades collaborated with them and defied their party mandate is saddening. We therefore condemn their actions.”

In the debate before the vote, Maimane and the Economic Freedom Fighters had sought not to alienate ANC MPs, giving assurances that the motion was not meant to overthrow the party that has governed since the end of apartheid but to remove an unpopular president.

On Wednesday, Maimane said the vote was historic because of the number of ANC MPs who had defied the party line, but the fact that the ANC had again opted to protect Zuma meant the time was ripe to call for early elections.

The call comes three years and three months after the national elections that handed him a second term.

“We believe the voters should now have the chance to express their opinion about the conduct of the ANC in defending Jacob Zuma. In short, we believe that Parliament should be dissolved now so that the country can hold an early election.”

Maimane said South Africa’s current problems, including an economic recession and the extent of corruption allegations against Zuma, ministers and key institutions, constituted extraordinary circumstances that justified early elections.

He said other opposition parties would back the motion, and they would again lobby ANC MPs to do so.

– African News Agency (ANA)