Threats and intimidation against ANC members of parliament in the National Assembly on how to vote in the upcoming motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma are real.
That’s according to the Institute for Security Studies’ head of its crime and justice programme, Gareth Newham, in his submission to the Constitutional Court, which is expected to be heard today.
The application to the ConCourt arguing why parliamentarians who elected Zuma through a secret ballot must be allowed to vote secretly in the no-confidence motion was brought by the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and joined by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and Congress of the People (Cope), with the ISS, the Unemployed Peoples Movement and the Shosholoza Progressive Party applying to be friends of the court.
“This constraint means that the exercise of a vote under section 102(2) would be ineffective to hold the president to account,” said Newham.
“Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete has contended she does not have the legal footing to allow the vote to be in secret.
“The president, as head of the political party and the executive, is assured in advance of the outcome of the motion of no confidence, where his party is the majority in the national assembly, as will often be the case and is the case here.”
Newham cited the experience of the ANC’s MP Makhosi Khoza, who wrote on her Facebook page about how she had apparently lost her position as a member of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature chairing the standing committee on public accounts.
Khoza stated she was redeployed to the position of ANC KZN chief whip after she “revolted against collective leadership injudiciousness”, eventually leaving the legislature in 2012 because “it was clear that if I continued, my children … would be orphans as they were one parent away from an orphanage”.
In a subsequent interview on eNCA, Khoza confirmed the culture of intimidation prevailing within the ruling party, Newham noted, while citing other instances of intimidation.
UDM president, General Bantu Holomisa, has said: “We the leaders of political parties [the African Christian Democratic Party, African Independent Congress, African People’s Convention, Cope, Agang SA, Democratic Alliance, EFF, IFP and the UDM], together with the Freedom Movement and SaveSA, are united behind the call for MPs to be allowed to decide, by secret ballot, whether President Jacob Zuma must vacate office or not.”
He said they believed the matter went to the heart of the constitution.