Ramaphosa motion of no confidence: ATM's court bid for secret ballot to be heard hours before motion

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President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa
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  • The ATM's urgent application for a secret ballot in the motion of no confidence in President Cyril Ramaphosa will be heard hours before the motion is scheduled.
  • The motion will take place unless the ATM withdraws it.
  • The UDM will not participate in the motion if it is not by secret ballot and the DA will abstain.


The ATM's urgent application to have the voting for its motion of no confidence in President Cyril Ramaphosa by secret ballot will be heard on Thursday morning, hours before the motion is scheduled.

The motion will proceed unless it is withdrawn by ATM leader Vuyolwethu Zungula who sponsored the motion.

After the party lodged the motion in February this year, it also asked National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise that it be voted on by secret ballot.

Modise declined, saying it did not provide evidence of "a highly charged atmosphere, intimidation of any member or any demonstrable evidence of threats against the lives of members and their families, which may warrant a secret ballot".

She also referred to the constitutional imperative of transparency.

After the motion was scheduled last week, with Modise confirming that voting will be in the open, Zungula wrote to her to ask her to reconsider.

This was followed by a letter from the ATM's lawyers.

Again, Modise declined.

She also pointed out the National Assembly currently used a hybrid virtual system, making secret voting practically difficult.

On Wednesday, the ATM lodged an application with the Western Cape High Court, asking it to review Modise's decision on the basis that it was "irrational and biased".

It does not ask the court to interdict the National Assembly proceeding with the motion pending the court's decision.

"The applicant [Zungula] holds a reasonable view that the president has failed to carry out his constitutional mandate," read Zungula's founding affidavit.

He acknowledged Modise had the discretion to decide whether the voting took place by open or secret ballot.

"The MP's faithfulness can best be, in my opinion, achieved when testing their personal conscience rather than when the MPs act on the mandate of his or her party."


According to Zungula, the political climate was so toxic at the moment that it would not be possible for MPs to cast their votes according to their "individual consciousness" and an open vote would "expose members to illegitimate hardships".

"In 2017, the vote of no confidence in President Zuma was done by secret ballot on circumstances which are the same as political toxic circumstances as they are currently," his affidavit read.

"The same decision by the Speaker in 2017 of holding the vote of no confidence with secret ballot shall apply even on current circumstances."

ATM spokesperson Sibusiso Mncwabe confirmed the case would be heard at 10:00 by the Western Cape High Court.

Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said in a tweet: "Parliament has been served with papers by ATM seeking WC High Court to set aside Speaker's decision on its request for secret ballot re Motion of No Confidence. Parliament is studying the papers. Motion will continue tomorrow as scheduled unless withdrawn before debate by sponsor."

The plenary is scheduled to start at 14:00, and the motion is the fifth item on the agenda and will most likely start in the late afternoon.

Meanwhile, the UDM indicated it would not participate in the motion if it was not by secret ballot, its leader, Bantu Holomisa, indicated in a letter to Modise.

It was the UDM who brought the application to the Constitutional Court which paved the way for Baleka Mbete to have the August 2017 motion of no confidence in corruption-accused former president Jacob Zuma by secret ballot.

The DA will also abstain from the vote, but for different reasons.

"We believe that this is a frivolous motion which has been brought before Parliament by the African Transformation Movement [ATM]," said DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone in a statement.

"The ATM - a side project of the Zuma/Magashule faction in the ANC - is destined to fail without the majority support of MPs. The two ATM MPs, together with a large portion of ANC MPs, will need to vote in favour - a step which may also place a number of Zuma/Magashule allies in the Ramaphosa Cabinet on the chopping board.

"The motion will, therefore, not succeed and only offer an entertainment break from the work of Parliament."

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