Cape Town - The African National Congress in Parliament has welcomed the Constitutional Court's ruling that Speaker Baleka Mbete must decide again on a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma, saying it doesn't change its stance.
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu on Wednesday said the party will consult with its members and legal advisors on the implications of the judgment, but that it in effect won't change their expressed position.
"... Our initial understanding of the judgment is that it gives the Speaker of the National Assembly, who is the chairperson of the rules committee of Parliament, the powers to decide on a secret ballot..." Mthembu said in a statement.
"Notwithstanding these matters and the effects of the engagements that will ensue in the rules committee, we are still steadfast that whether such engagement will result in a vote by secret ballot or not, we have unqualified and unequivocal confidence in the ANC caucus not to vote in support of a motion to remove the President of the ANC, who is also the President of the Republic of South Africa and our government, from office."
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng ruled on Thursday that Mbete as speaker does have the constitutional power to decide whether or not to hold a secret ballot for a motion of no confidence in the president.
Focus on Mbete
She had erred in her previous stance that she did not have the authority, he said.
She and President Jacob Zuma were ordered to pay costs of the opposition counsel as well.
Mthembu said the party's caucus will engage positively on the matter going forward, as eyes now turn to Mbete to make a decision.
He also affirmed the party's right to decide how its members conduct itself in Parliament according to their party's constitution.
"As Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng reminded us today, the South African electoral system is a party political system. The electorate votes for political parties who represent them in the legislature.
"ANC members of Parliament are therefore representatives of the ANC in Parliament and derive their mandate from the political party which deployed them in the same way as members of other political parties derive their mandate from their political parties."
Mthembu cited examples in the Western Cape Provincial Legislature where the Democratic Alliance refused to vote with the ANC to remove Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.
In Mogale City, the DA also instructed councillors to take a lie detector test after some of members voted in favour of removing the mayor.
"This is the level of hypocrisy of the opposition who expect the ANC to do something which they flatly refuse to do.
"We reiterate our long stated position that we will not support the motion of no confidence on President Jacob Zuma by opposition parties. We will defeat this motion of no confidence by the opposition as we have successfully done so in the previous four motions tabled in this fifth term of Parliament."
Meanwhile, DA leader Mmusi Maimane called on all political parties, especially the ANC, to allow their members to "do what they know is right, and to vote Jacob Zuma out".
Maimane described the motion as "a pivotal moment for our country and its future.
"Jacob Zuma has abandoned the interests of the people, the economy, and South Africa, in favour of a kleptocratic Guptamocracy. We cannot allow this to continue any longer.
"For the sake of the country, it is important that members of Parliament, regardless of political affiliation, come together and put South Africa first by voting to protect the Constitution and to end corruption. Public representatives in Parliament are accountable to the people - first and foremost.
"The removal of Jacob Zuma is the first step in stopping the ANC that is destroying our country and its future."
Shortly after Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng delivered his judgment, Maimane sent out a press release stating that he wrote to Mbete to request her to schedule the motion of no confidence at the earliest available opportunity.
Parliament, however, enters its winter recess on July 3, and there are no plenaries scheduled for next week.
"Regardless of today's [Thursday's] ruling by the Constitutional Court, the Democratic Alliance's vote in the upcoming motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma will be no secret," said Maimane.
"The DA will vote to fire Jacob Zuma - and we call on every other Member of Parliament, from all political parties, to do the same."