UDM disputes Mbete, Zuma arguments over secret ballot

2017-04-19 18:06
Bantu Holomisa. (File)

Bantu Holomisa. (File)

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Cape Town - The United Democratic Movement has filed court papers replying to Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete and President Jacob Zuma's reasons for why a motion of no confidence is no longer urgent.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa filed papers on Wednesday to the Constitutional Court to argue against Mbete and Zuma's responding affidavits, which they filed on Thursday, April 13.

Holomisa said it was "patently untenable" that separation of powers should be used to prevent the court from ruling on Parliament's ability to use a secret ballot in the vote of no confidence.

"These are matters pre-eminently suited to be pronounced on by the courts," he said, adding that a no confidence vote in its nature is provided for by the Constitution.

He said their application is not about intrusion, but about an interpretation of the Constitution, and what it allows.

The court therefore needs to rule on the nature of a vote, on its transparency and the National Assembly's ability to choose its own methods within the confines of the law.

Holomisa also disputed President Jacob Zuma's replying affidavit to the Constitutional Court.

He argued that Zuma claimed the African National Congress will in no way intimidate its members to vote a certain way, but had ignored the UDM's submission on the ANC's public "party discipline principle".

Motion of no confidence 'unique, critical'

"The president's own affidavit makes clear that the ANC will not hesitate to give an instruction to its members to vote in a particular way and will proceed to take whatever steps are necessary to discipline those who vote in any way other than as directed."

As for urgency, Holomisa noted that Mbete herself had no problem acknowledging the urgency of the court process, given the then looming no confidence debate originally scheduled for Tuesday.

He also said the court can further explain the boundaries of a secret ballot vote in written and oral arguments.

"A motion of no confidence is not a piece of legislation that must be approved or rejected. It is also not a policy issue that must be determined. In those circumstances an open ballot is understandable.

"But this mechanism is different... It is a unique and critical mechanism to ensure oversight of the president... The National Assembly is therefore performing a different function when it considers a motion of no confidence."

Members of Parliament should thus be able to vote their conscience on whether they still have confidence in the President, including those that report to him.

He also said Mbete and Zuma did not dispute media reports in which ANC officials and stalwarts agree with UDM's position, and only dismissed them as "hearsay".

Holomisa said they would file more detailed papers on April 21.

Read more on:    anc  |  udm  |  politics  |  judiciary

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