Parliament welcomes ConCourt decision on secret ballot

2017-06-22 15:09
The Constitutional Court. (Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

The Constitutional Court. (Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

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ANALYSIS: Here's what the ConCourt secret ballot ruling means...

2017-06-22 11:42

The Constitutional Court has ruled that the decision of a secret ballot must go back to the Speaker. Here's what that means...WATCH

Cape Town - National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has no personal or principled opposition to the use of a secret ballot in a vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

This was Parliament's reaction to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng's ruling on Thursday morning that the speaker has the constitutional power to determine if motions of no confidence should be conducted by secret ballot or not. 

"Parliament welcomes the direction provided today by the Constitutional Court regarding the application for a secret ballot in a vote of no confidence in the President," Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said in a statement. 

"Parliament wishes to reaffirm its commitment to give effect to the decision of the court." 

He said that Mbete's view had been that she had no powers to grant the secret ballot in motions of no confidence.

"The Constitutional Court, in this regard, was called to intercede to provide authoritative constitutional clarification and guidance on the matter.

"The speaker’s view was a cautious one. As a creation of the Constitution, she has to ensure that all her decisions are firmly in line with the Constitution, the law and the Rules of the National Assembly," said Mothapo. 

He said, now that the court had clarified that the speaker has the powers to conduct motions of no confidence by way of a secret ballot, she would ensure that the judgment is given effect.

'The clarification is welcome'

The ANC welcomed the court's "refusal to be abused by opposition parties with no popular mandate wanting to co-govern with the democratically elected government of the people". 

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa, described the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and others' court application as "a frivolous and vexatious application". 

"It sought to call on the Constitutional Court to disregard the doctrine of separation of powers and direct the National Assembly Speaker how to direct the business of Parliament."

He said the court had clarified that the speaker may decide on a secret ballot. 

"The clarification is welcome. The court, however, will not decide for the speaker, the head of another arm of state, as to how she exercises her discretion, despite the mischievous and adventurous exercise of the UDM to force this point."

He said the ANC was confident that Mbete would "apply her mind" on the issue. 

"The African National Congress has full confidence in our members of Parliament and do not doubt their revolutionary discipline and commitment to the decisions and directives of the organisation," Kodwa said.

"Members of the ANC will not be dictated to by the unprincipled, undemocratic oppositionist coalition which, when given an opportunity to remove the racist Helen Zille from office as Premier in the Western Cape, failed to do so and subjected their own who voted with their conscience to humiliating lie detector tests in Mogale City," Kodwa said. 

"Regardless of whether a secret ballot is granted or not in this matter, this motion of no confidence - like countless others before it - is nothing but an exercise in political posturing and is condemned to failure."

'We are going to shut down South Africa'

Shortly after the court's decision, UDM chief whip Nqabayomzi Kwankwa wrote to Mbete again to request a motion of no confidence against Zuma.

"We call on you to do the right thing and grant an urgent debate, and allow for a secret ballot for a vote of no confidence in President Zuma. We therefore request an urgent meeting with you to discuss the matter," Kwankwa wrote. 

The EFF’s Leigh-Ann Mathys, who sat in on court proceedings, said ANC MPs had failed to represent those who had voted them into power.

“We had to use our time, our resources to come to the Constitutional Court to ask the Constitutional Court to create an environment for them to do the right thing in this country,” said Mathys.

She said opposition parties, unlike the governing party, were on the right side of history.

"On the day when the speaker declares the day for a motion of no confidence, you can be sure that the opposition parties are going to stand together. We are going to shut down South Africa," she said.

Mathys also urged South Africans to participate in the demonstration which is to be led by opposition parties.

"You complain on social media, this is your opportunity to shut down the country, and you must tell your ANC MPs who they must vote for, to stand on the right side," she said.

Read more on:    anc  |  eff  |  jacob zuma  |  judiciary

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