D-Day for the Speaker

Mbete to re­veal bal­lot pro­ce­dure Marches planned in nine prov­inces

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI, NONI MOKATI AND MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA

IT is D-Day for Speaker Baleka Mbete as she makes the ea­gerly awaited de­ci­sion on whether the vote of no con­fi­dence in Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma should be de­cided through a se­cret bal­lot.

Par­lia­ment was ex­pected to make the de­ci­sion today ahead of the vote in the Na­tional As­sem­bly to­mor­row.

Par­lia­ment’s spokesper­son, Moloto Mothapo, yes­ter­day con­firmed that Mbete was set to an­nounce her de­ci­sion today.

“Na­tional As­sem­bly Speaker Ms Baleka Mbete will (today) ad­dress the me­dia on the vot­ing pro­ce­dure to be fol­lowed when the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in the pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic is de­bated on Au­gust 8,” said Mothapo in a brief state­ment yes­ter­day.

The EFF and the DA have al­ready vowed to go to court if Mbete de­cides against a se­cret bal­lot. They want her to or­der that the vote be con­ducted through a se­cret bal­lot to al­low ANC MPs, who want to vote with the op­po­si­tion, to do so with­out be­ing iden­ti­fied.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst So­madoda Fikeni said it would be bet­ter if Mbete an­nounced her de­ci­sion today, be­fore MPs vote to­mor­row.

He said there could be sev­eral rea­sons why Mbete has de­layed an­nounc­ing her de­ci­sion, fol­low­ing the Con­sti­tu­tional Court judg­ment a few weeks ago.

“It is the ANC’s anx­i­ety about the whole ex­er­cise of a se­cret bal­lot… they (ANC) wanted to off-set any strat­egy and lob­by­ing by the op­po­si­tion,” said Fikeni of the de­lay.

How­ever, he warned that the de­lay could be a gam­ble, be­cause op­po­si­tion par­ties will go to court and chal­lenge her de­ci­sion.

This would lead to more de­lays for the vote to be con­ducted in Par­lia­ment, he pointed out.

Fikeni said Mbete was in a dif­fi­cult po­si­tion and Zuma did not make things eas­ier for her with his po­si­tion on an open bal­lot.

“The pres­i­dent didn’t make her life eas­ier by an­nounc­ing his pref­er­ence that he did not want a se­cret bal­lot,” said Fikeni.

The DA has added to Mbete’s pres­sure with a planned march to Par­lia­ment to­mor­row. The party’s na­tional spokesper­son, Phumzile van Damme, yes­ter­day called on civic groups to join the march.

“The DA en­cour­ages all South Africans from all po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tions to come out in their mil­lions to­mor­row to de­fend our democ­racy against the cor­rupt and the cap­tured.

“While the main march #No­Con­fi­dence will be held in Cape Town, the DA has or­gan­ised events in all nine prov­inces for those who are not able to travel to Cape Town,” Van Damme added.

For­mer deputy fi­nance min­is­ter Mce­bisi Jonas, in a video posted on­line, called on South Africans to join the march to Par­lia­ment.

But the ANC cau­cus in Par­lia­ment on Satur­day stuck to its guns in re­ject­ing the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in Zuma, say­ing his re­moval would be like drop­ping a nu­clear bomb on the coun­try.

The party’s chief whip, Jack­son Mthembu, in­sisted that Zuma’s re­moval would not be in the best in­ter­ests of the coun­try.

Mthembu said cur­rent “ir­ri­ta­tions” should not blind pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives to act in a man­ner that de­stroyed ev­ery­thing built since the dawn of democ­racy.

“Vot­ing in favour of the mo­tion will be tan­ta­mount to throw­ing a nu­clear bomb on our coun­try. The re­moval of the pres­i­dent will have dis­as­trous con­se­quences that can only have a neg­a­tive im­pact on the peo­ple of South Africa,” he said.

But Cope dif­fered with Mthembu, say­ing Mbete must re­spect MPs and do the right thing. Cope leader Mo­siuoa Lekota said no party can force its MPs not to vote with their con­science.

“The court has made it clear that those of us who are elected, once elected and hav­ing taken our oath of of­fice, owe it to the peo­ple of South Africa as a whole that no po­lit­i­cal party can com­pel an MP to vote against their con­science and against their judg­ment. Now they will ex­er­cise their rights, with­out fear,” said Lekota.

ANC MPs Dr Makhosi Khoza and Mondli Gun­gubele have publicly said they will vote against Zuma, with the for­mer writ­ing to the Speaker urg­ing her to al­low a se­cret bal­lot.

Khoza has been hauled be­fore the dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee of the ANC in KwaZulu-Na­tal for speak­ing out against Zuma. Her hear­ing is sched­uled for Septem­ber 10.

Gun­gubele was told by the ANC in Gaut­eng to stop speak­ing out on the mat­ter and he agreed to fol­low the party’s in­struc­tion.

For­mer tourism min­is­ter Derek Hanekom has said half of the ANC cau­cus in Par­lia­ment was un­happy with Zuma.

The ANC has warned against any of its MPs vot­ing against Zuma, say­ing they will face dis­ci­plinary ac­tion.

Zuma has been un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure to go.

Sev­eral protests have been planned in Cape Town to­mor­row, where thou­sands are ex­pected to march for and against Zuma. Civil so­ci­ety has been mo­bil­is­ing against Zuma for months. ANC mem­bers in the Dul­lah Omar re­gion, the party’s big­gest re­gion in the West­ern Cape, will march in sup­port of Zuma.

Po­lice have warned that tough ac­tion would be taken on acts of law­less­ness dur­ing the marches.

Yes­ter­day, West­ern Cape po­lice said all law-enforcement agen­cies were pre­par­ing for ap­proved planned marches to Par­lia­ment today and to­mor­row.

Po­lice spokesper­son Bri­gadier Novela Potelwa said an op­er­a­tional plan has been de­vel­oped un­der the aus­pices of the pro­vin­cial joint op­er­a­tional and in­tel­li­gence struc­ture in an­tic­i­pa­tion of thou­sands of peo­ple de­scend­ing on the Mother City cen­tre.

PAR­LIA­MENT wants the cul­prit who broke into the Na­tional Coun­cil of Prov­inces (NCOP) and made off with a lap­top and doc­u­ments to face the wrath of the law.

“We have no doubt that the iden­ti­fied cul­prit will be brought to book soon,” Par­lia­ment’s spokesper­son Moloto Mothapo said yes­ter­day.

“Par­lia­ment is a na­tional key point and a stern mes­sage must be sent by our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem through harsh ac­tions against such crim­i­nal el­e­ments,” Mothapo said.

He made the com­ments fol­low­ing me­dia re­ports at the week­end, that an of­fice in the NCOP build­ing was bro­ken into last Monday.

The break-in took place against the back­drop of sim­i­lar in­ci­dents at state in­sti­tu­tions such as the Of­fice of the Chief Jus­tice, the Hawks and an of­fice of a pros­e­cu­tor this year.

Mothapo said the cul­prit in the NCOP break-in was caught on CCTV footage.

“There is cam­era video footage that shows an in­truder who went through the build­ing... and stole a com­puter and some doc­u­ments. That footage has been given to the po­lice for in­ves­ti­ga­tion‚” he said.

Mothapo said mea­sures were in place to en­sure there was no breach of se­cu­rity.

“Par­lia­ment’s se­cu­rity re­mains on high alert, hence our sur­veil­lance sys­tem is ca­pa­ble of de­tect­ing and iden­ti­fy­ing such un­law­ful acts swiftly for a speedy res­o­lu­tion by the po­lice.”

This was the fourth breakin in Par­lia­ment in a pe­riod of two years.

In April, the SABC’s of­fices were bro­ken into and com­put­ers were stolen.

The of­fices of the lan­guages ser­vice di­vi­sion were also bro­ken into.

The EFF of­fice also fell vic­tim of a break-in in July 2015.

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