The Citizen (KZN)

Bantu’s bid for secret ballot

Parliament­ary Speaker Baleka Mbete will not oppose the UDM leader Bantu Holomisa’s court applicatio­n to have the vote of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma conducted in secret.

- – Eric Naki and Denise Williams

Widespread concerns ANC MPs may not vote against JZ due to intimidati­on.

Speaker of parliament Baleka Mbete will not oppose the United Democratic Movement’s (UDM) Constituti­onal Court applicatio­n to have the vote of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma conducted through a secret ballot.

Yesterday, she backtracke­d on her earlier decision to turn down the UDM’s request.

“With regard to whether motions of this nature ought to be conducted by way of a secret vote, the speaker of the National Assembly holds no position on the matter.

“Where the speaker and the UDM disagree is in relation to the powers of the speaker under the constituti­on to make such a determinat­ion,” Mbete’s office said yesterday.

But the UDM has since been allowed access to the Constituti­onal Court by the court itself, a decision that could result in the postponeme­nt of the no-confidence debate in parliament to beyond April 18, if the applicatio­n succeeds.

The court directed that relevant parties, including the speaker, the president, the ANC and opposition parties, had until April 21 to make submission­s as to why the vote should or should not be secret.

Mbete has set down the debate for Tuesday next week and is now under pressure to postpone it.

The applicatio­n for a secret ballot was brought by the UDM over widespread concerns that ANC MPs may not vote in favour of the motion due to intimidati­on or pressure from Luthuli House.

UDM attorney Eric Mabuza said Mbete had been given until 10am to postpone the debate, pending the outcome of a Constituti­onal Court ruling on the secret ballot.

“The D-day is [today] … we will only go to the lower court if the speaker refuses to postpone the sitting on the 18th,” he said, adding that after 10am they would approach the court for a “very, very urgent interdict”.

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu maintained that ANC MPs stood behind Zuma. ANC caucus spokespers­on Nonceba Mhlauli said the party would oppose a motion of no confidence

In a statement issued by parliament, Mbete said while she was not opposed to a no-confidence vote and the UDM’s applicatio­n in principle, she intended to tell the Constituti­onal Court that the secret ballot vote had no basis in law as it was not provided for in the constituti­on and the rules of the House.

The statement said Section 102 of the constituti­on, which dealt with the procedure for motions of no confidence, made no stipulatio­ns for a secret ballot in the House.

It also cited the rules of the National Assembly that made no provision for voting by secret ballot.

Mbete reiterated her vow to uphold the constituti­on, saying that all her decisions must have a basis in law and the rules of the House.

“Therefore, acceding to the request of the UDM would have been unconstitu­tional, as she does not enjoy such powers in the constituti­on,” parliament’s statement said.

This is the position the speaker will advance in the Constituti­onal Court.

Parliament issued another statement yesterday afternoon, saying it “will comply with the directions and time frames issued by the court”.

“The Constituti­onal Court has not yet taken a decision to either hear or schedule the applicatio­n from the UDM.

“No injunction has been made by the court regarding the debate on the motion of no confidence, which is scheduled for April 18, 2017 at 2pm in the National Assembly,” parliament­ary spokespers­on Moloto Mothapo said.

Meanwhile, the DA has written to Mbete to request a postponeme­nt of the motion of no confidence in Zuma until the Constituti­onal Court decides whether the vote will be done by secret ballot or not.

“It is important to allow the Constituti­onal Court the time to determine whether the motion can be conducted by secret ballot, as we believe that this would materially affect the outcome of the vote itself,” the party said.

“As soon as a decision is taken, the motion must be debated before the Assembly as soon as possible.”

I am not opposed to a vote of no confidence

 ?? Picture: Gallo images ?? BANTU HOLOMISA
Picture: Gallo images BANTU HOLOMISA

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