Parliament’s prerogative to set its own rules raised in Concourt

Justices have asked whether the Constitution doesn’t favour just allowing Parliament to decide on its own rules.

United Democratic Movement (UDM) senior counsel Dali Mpofu found himself under fire on Monday as Constitutional Court judges inquired whether it was not up to Parliament to determine its own rules, including whether to vote openly or through a secret ballot.

Justice Chris Jafta asked Mpofu whether those who had drafted South Africa’s Constitution allowed Parliament to conduct its own business as per the Constitution and draft its rules.

“Section 55 says the National Assembly can determine rules and procedures … doesn’t this tell us that the Constitution’s drafters have left that duty to Parliament?” asked Jafta.

The authors of the Constitution took into consideration the importance of the rules of Parliament, he added.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng interjected.

“All the jurisdictions you have referred to, Parliament has itself determined its rules on how things were going to be done. Botswana, Zambia … Germany prescribed their own rules for secret ballot, not the Constitutional Court,” said Mogoeng.

“It was left to Parliament to decide.”

Mpofu said a decision on a secret ballot in the countries he cited “could have been decided by Parliament or [the] Speaker”.

“Rules say, at the direction of the Speaker, a procedure to be adopted will be imposed. In the case of Korea, the rules do not even deal with a secret ballot.”

– African News Agency (ANA)


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