Judgment reserved in Zuma motion bid

2012-11-20 19:48
Jacob Zuma (Picture: AFP)

Jacob Zuma (Picture: AFP)

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Cape Town - The Western Cape High Court reserved judgment on Tuesday on an urgent application to force a parliamentary debate on a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

Judge Dennis Davis said he would first wait for the outcome of a National Assembly debate on Wednesday, which would decide whether to hold the debate.

"I'm not going to make this judgment in three minutes. It's ridiculous to put such pressure on judges for matters of this importance," he said.

"Judges are not just slot machines where you put something in and get something out... At most, judgment is going to be out on Thursday."

Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko gave notice of the motion in the Assembly on 8 November.

The motion was brought on the grounds "that under his [Zuma's] leadership the justice system has been politicised and weakened; corruption has spiralled out of control; unemployment continues to increase, the economy is weakening, and the right of access to quality education has been violated".

The motion was "mandated" by eight opposition parties, including the African Christian Democratic Party, the Azanian People's Organisation, the Congress of the People, the Freedom Front Plus, the Inkatha Freedom Party, the United Christian Democratic Party, and the United Democratic Front.

ANC Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga described the motion as frivolous and without foundation.

The motion came before National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu, who adjourned the programming committee meeting without the debate being scheduled on the basis that no consensus had been reached.

Mazibuko filed an urgent application on behalf of all opposition parties on Friday to force Sisulu to schedule a debate and vote before Parliament goes into recess.

The application was brought on the basis that Sisulu, as presiding officer of the programming committee, had the power in terms of National Assembly rules to give a ruling in case of "unforeseen eventualities".

The applicants' lawyer Anton Katz said the motion would lapse if was not scheduled for debate by Thursday.

He argued that the programming committee was using an impasse as a reason to hide from important national issues.

"Everyone in this room knows they [the ANC] don't want to debate it and it's not about time in this instance.

"These [issues] are not things we make up... Peoples' representatives have lost faith in the president. This debate needs to take precedence over other debates."

Sisulu and Motshekga are opposing the application.

Jumped the gun

Lawyer Jan Heunis said his client Sisulu's hands were tied and that the DA had jumped the gun by not allowing parliamentary processes to run their course.

He said the opposition parties could not hinge their application on the constitutionality of parliamentary processes, but only on the outcome of such processes, which had yet to be revealed.

The Constitutional Court was the only applicable avenue in this respect.

Davis questioned the constitutionality of such parliamentary processes, as explained by Heunis.

He said it did not seem right that the fate of a minority party motion could be decided by the National Assembly, when it was made up largely of majority party members.

"It can't possibly be that the majority can simply say: 'Sorry, we can't debate this.'"

Nazeer Cassim, for Motshekga, asked the court to have faith in the majority party.

"You should not make the assumption that the majority party will always do the wrong thing," he said.

"If the majority party does do the wrong thing [by not scheduling the debate], that's where the ConCourt comes in."

The expected judgment will be delivered on the last day the National Assembly sits.

Katz read out the programme for Thursday, and suggested that the debate could be heard instead of the "farewell speech", to which 75 minutes was allocated.

Read more on:    da  |  ff plus  |  anc  |  acdp  |  udm  |  cope  |  azapo  |  ifp  |  mathole motshekga  |  lindiwe mazibuko  |  jacob zuma  |  max sisulu  |  politics  |  parliament 2012

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