Mbete fights secret ballot in Zuma no-confidence vote

Baleka Mbete in Parliament (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Denvor de Wee)

Although she was at pains to say she isn’t ‘personally averse’ to it.

Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete has asked the Constitutional Court to dismiss the United Democratic Movement’s application for a secret ballot in an upcoming motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

This was contained in the submission to the Concourt following a directive from the court which Parliament released on Friday evening.

“We reiterate the First Respondent’s stance that she is not personally averse to having a motion of no confidence in the President being decided by secret ballot,” said her submission.

“However, the First Respondent is constrained from making such a determination, being bound by the Constitution and the Rules, the findings and decision of the Western Cape Division, Cape Town … and the decision of the National Assembly (NA) not to include such a provision in its Rules.”

The submission argued the principle of separation of powers “forbids courts from intervening in matters that fall within the domain of the national legislature, unless mandated by the Constitution”.

It also argues “the Constitution does prescribe a particular procedure for a motion of no confidence in the President in terms of section 102(2) of the Constitution. Such a motion is conducted in terms of Rule 129 read with Rules 102 to 104.

“None of the said Rules compel voting by secret ballot,” Mbete’s submission stated.

“If the Court finds that the Rules are unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid, and that the First Respondent has the power to consider and order a motion of no confidence involving a secret ballot procedure, the matter must be referred to the First Respondent for reconsideration.”

If the ConCourt found this, it would mean the power to make the decision would still rest in Mbete’s hands, who has been openly criticised for being inflexible when it comes to protecting her party and the president.

“… The Constitution does prescribe a particular procedure for the removal of the President, which involves a supporting vote of at least two thirds of the members of the [National Assembly] (Section 89). To this end, the Rule 103 is peremptory, and precludes a secret ballot,” Mbete’s submission maintained.

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