Call for debate on Zuma is ‘vague’

2012-11-20 00:00

NATIONAL Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu believes the DA’s court application for an order compelling him to schedule a debate of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma is couched in such “wide and vague” terms that the court could not possibly make an order.

He also argued that the application was premature, as opposition parties had not awaited the outcome of procedures he had put in place to get the debate on the table.

The DA filed a court application on behalf of a number of opposition parties for debate on the motion of no confidence in President Zuma to take place before November 22.

The parties, in their no confidence motion, argued that Zuma was out of touch with what was happening in the country and under his leadership, corruption had spiralled out of control.

Sisulu, in his answering affidavit to the application, denied that November 22 was the last day that Parliament would sit. He said committees will be meeting up until December 9 and it was possible to reconvene the National Assembly to debate the motion of no confidence after this date.

On the issue of the vagueness of the request, Sisulu said he was “asked to take whatever steps are necessary” to ensure that the debate takes place.

He said these words in themselves indicated that DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, who brought the application, was unsure of what could be done.

Sisulu also argued that the application was premature and certainly not urgent. He said the request for the debate had deadlocked in the programme committee and as chairperson of the committee, he had told those present at the meeting that he would be seeking legal advice on how to take the matter forward. This was still in process when the DA’s court application was made.

Mazibuko said the party was undeterred by Sisulu’s response and was going ahead with its court action before the Western Cape high court today.

The DA lawyers were working on a response to Sisulu’s affidavit last night.

The parties want nothing more than their original request that the debate on the motion of no confidence takes place before November 22.

Mazibuko disagreed with Sisulu that the application was not urgent. She said it was worth noting that international precedent and the very nature of the motion of no confidence itself provided for the debate to be urgently tabled.

She said, not to allow for a debate on a motion of no confidence provided for by the Constitution in terms of section 102(2), was both unprecedented and unconstitutional.

Mazibuko added they would argue their case before the court today in defence of both Parliament and the Constitution.

Meanwhile, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe criticised opposition parties for taking the matter to court, saying they were seeking to reduce Parliament to a subsidiary of the judiciary.

Mantashe said the ANC never opposed a parliamentary debate on the motion of no confidence — but now isn’t the time.

Apparently backtracking from the stance of the ANC parliamentary caucus last week, he told journalists in Luthuli House yesterday afternoon that the party’s national executive committee received a report on this at its meeting in Pretoria over the weekend.

“We are happy that the ANC in Parliament has not refused to discuss the motion. The question we are dealing with here is not a refusal, but a programming issue. We agree with our parliamentary caucus that there is no urgency on the matter,” he said.

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