DA to turn to Concourt

2012-11-23 00:00

THE Democratic Alliance will now turn to the country’s highest court to force a motion of no-confidence debate in President Jacob Zuma before Parliament closes this year.

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said the party’s legal team would file an urgent appeal in the Constitutional Court as soon as possible.

“We will also request that the court rule that the debate be held as a matter of urgency.”

She was speaking after the DA and seven other opposition parties lost their bid in the Cape High Court to force National Assembly speaker Max Sisulu to schedule a debate on the motion yesterday — the last day the house was sitting for the year.

Judge Dennis Davis said he had come to his conclusion “with some regret”.

“In my view, a motion of no-confidence in the president of … South Africa must have inherent urgency … it raises matters of profound national interest and importance”.

The majority party could not subvert a constitutional right to hold a no-confidence debate or decide if it took place, he said.

However, a gap in Parliament’s rules on how to deal with a deadlock on the scheduling of such a debate was not one that the courts could fix.

“It is a matter of vital importance, but it’s not for this court to dictate when that should take place,” Judge Davis said.

Mazibuko said the DA had decided on the Constitutional Court appeal, as Judge Davis had upheld the constitutional right that a motion of no confidence be debated in a reasonable timeframe.

The National Assembly’s failure to do so had frustrated this right, she said in a statement.

“Our legal team will file this urgent appeal as soon as possible. We will also request that the court rule that the debate be held as a matter of urgency.”

In his reaction, ANC Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga said appealing to the Constitutional Court would be a mistake.

It was not up to the Constitutional Court to “fill the gaps” in the rules of Parliament.

“It’s Parliament itself, the rules committee of Parliament, that can do that. If they want to go that route it means they have not yet learnt a lesson and they will learn another lesson in the Constitutional Court,” he said.

On Tuesday, the ANC backtracked on an earlier decision to quash the motion of no-confidence in Zuma.

It said that the debate would be set for February 26 — well after the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung. The ANC has also tabled a counter motion of confidence in Zuma.

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