The African Transformation Movement (ATM) – whose motion of no confidence against President Cyril Ramaphosa was granted and is set to be debated next week – has asked Speaker of Parliament Thandi Modise to reconsider her decision to have the motion voted for in an open ballot.
“It’s on public record that at least two opposition party MPs – the EFF’s Tebogo Mokwele and Nkagisang Mokgosi – were removed from Parliament by their own party because it was found that they were beneficiaries of the CR17 campaign fund.
“This is reason enough to suspect that more MPs might be beneficiaries of CR17 campaign funds, which might make it very difficult for them to vote [openly] against Ramaphosa, after benefiting personally. In fact, they could risk their lives and livelihoods,” said ATM leader Vuyolwethu Zungula.
He added that in the present climate of political killings and purgings, it would be prudent for Modise to ensure the safety of all MPs as they cast their votes.
However, Zungula conceded that the ATM could not “proffer concrete evidence” to justify why the ballot should be secret. The party initially made its case for a motion of no confidence against Ramaphosa in February.
Be that as it may, in a media statement on Friday, the ATM declared that it was the party’s “firm view that the conditions which empower the Speaker to exercise her discretion regarding a secret ballot are in abundance”.
The party argued that it was “also on public record that some within the majority party [the ANC], for their [own] reasons, are also no longer supportive of President Ramaphosa’s reign”. As such, a secret ballot would enable such disgruntled ANC members to avoid being swayed by party pressure and instead express their displeasure confidentially.
“The recent factional battles in the ANC are too numerous to list here, but the crucial one was the burning of an ANC T-shirt bearing Ramaphosa’s face [during a recent protest by ANC supporters loyal to party Secretary general, Ace Magashule]".
“In addition, the recently announced national general council of the ANC means that national executive members of the party, including Ramaphosa, will face stringent evaluation. Voting openly may show the [beliefs] of some members and thus expose them to dire consequences, even before the national general council,” said Zungula.
The ATM was also unhappy about Modise’s office only responding to it the open ballot issue on Thursday, when her decision regarding the matter appears to have been made more than eight months ago.
“Your letter dated March 5 2020 – which the ATM only received yesterday, November 26, following our request for same – has reference. It is not our intention at this stage to dwell much on the anomaly of only receiving such an important letter at such a late stage. [However], it is also inexplicable that the Speaker’s office has to date not been able to provide ATM with either an email trail or a physical copy of the register where an ATM official could supposedly have signed for this letter.
“We therefore place it on record that the date of official receipt of the said response is in dispute and thus should not be assumed as a common course. We request the Speaker to continue investigating this matter and advise the ATM on the outcome of such an investigation,” the party said.