Baleka Mbete considering motion of no confidence

2017-04-02 15:38
National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete (Parliament TV)

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete (Parliament TV)

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Johannesburg - National assembly speaker, Baleka Mbete, on Sunday cut her working visit to Bangladesh short to address the media on requests she has received to urgently convene a sitting to process, yet another proposal for a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

In a statement, Mbete said she's returned from Bangladesh, where she was leading a multiparty delegation of the South African Parliament to the Assembly of the International Parliamentary Unions (IPU).

"I had to cut my participation [short] in the light of the recent developments, which have thrust the Constitutional role of Parliament into the matter," she said.

"These developments include the speaker of the national assembly being cited as a respondent in the matter between the official opposition and the president of the republic at the Western Cape High Court, in which the official opposition sought to interdict the swearing-in of new members of the executive.

"The Court was, among others, asked to compel Parliament to urgently schedule a motion of no confidence in the president. No finding was made against the speaker in respect of the relief sought by the official opposition."

She was referring to President Jacob Zuma's much anticipated cabinet reshuffle which saw the axing of Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas.

Mbete said on March 30, her office received a request from a leader of the opposition for a motion of no confidence in Zuma to be scheduled.

The letter, she said, indicated that the motion be scheduled when parliament reconvenes.

"Later on the same day, a similar request was received from the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). The letter made a further request for the national assembly to be convened for a special sitting in the week of 3 April to debate and vote on a similar motion."

Constituency responsibilities

She said on March 31, her office received another letter, again from the official opposition, requesting that the national assembly resume its business earlier to process the motion.

Mbete said the procedure for processing a motion of no confidence, which is a right members of parliament enjoy in line with the oversight function of Parliament, is stipulated in the rules of the national assembly.

She said any such request needed to be assessed to ascertain if it is compliant with the appropriate rules.

There also needed to be consultation with the chief whip of the majority party and the leader of government business, who is the deputy president of the republic.  

She said the motion would then need to be scheduled within a reasonable time given the progamme of the assembly.

Mbete said national assembly members were currently undertaking their constituency responsibilities across the country and were scheduled to return to parliament from the beginning of May.

Consultation process

The consultation process prescribed by the rules is meant to deal with these issues.

"Given the seriousness inherent in the motions of confidence and their implications on the nation, I have, therefore, decided to cut [short] my working trip to Bangladesh to ensure that these requests are given the appropriate consideration."

She said in terms of the Constitution and in terms of the clarification provided by the Constitutional Court in the Mazibuko vs Sisulu matter, as and when a motion of this magnitude is called and is in line with the rules, it must be scheduled and must receive priority.

"I will, therefore, as of today, begin a process of consultation contemplated in the rules in the consideration of the requests submitted. I envisage that the consultation should be concluded as soon as possible."

She said once the consultation process was concluded, her office would write to all the parties involved to advise them of the outcome.

On the question of what procedure would be followed in an event a motion of no confidence is agreed to by the House, she said the Constitution clearly stipulated what would happen should a motion of no confidence be carried in sections 86, 88 and 90.

"I must stress that I am alive to the extreme challenges and sense of anxiety our young democracy is going through at this moment. Our people are looking to parliament to play its part and exercise its constitutional responsibilities.

"South Africans are expecting our institutions of democracy such as parliament to demonstrate decisive leadership. This is a responsibility that parliament, for its part, does not take lightly. I, therefore, assure South Africans that this legislative arm of the State must and will rise to the occasion."

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  jacob zuma  |  baleka mbete  |  politics  |  parliament

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