African National Congress (ANC) MPs will toe the party line and keep President Jacob Zuma in power when a vote of no confidence reaches the National Assembly, ruling party chief whip Jackson Mthembu said on Tuesday.
Participating in a debate on Parliament’s budget, Mthembu said ANC MPs were deployees of their party and had to vote according to its standing decisions and principles. He lashed out at opposition parties who have called on ANC MPs to vote according to their conscience.
“It is very surprising that ANC members of Parliament are expected to vote against its own decisions and resolutions and party line, while all other parties are expected to vote according to their party mandates,” said Mthembu.
“This is not only disingenuous and double standards … but it makes a mockery of the political party system.”
He accused the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters, South Africa’s two biggest opposition parties, of extreme “hatred” of Zuma. Mthembu indicated a vote against Zuma was a vote against the ANC.
“No party in the world has ever done so. We won’t do so.”
Courts must stay out of Parly business, Mbete argues
Parliament was able to resolve disagreements between its members, and did not need the courts to tell it how to do its job, National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete argued on Tuesday.
Opening the debate on Parliament’s R2.2 billion budget, Mbete quoted the Constitution at length, saying it spelled out the separation of the three arms of state (Executive, Parliament and Judiciary) clearly.
“The principle of separation of powers recognises the independence of the branches of government,” she said.
“… The principle of checks and balances focuses on the importance of ensuring the constitutional order prevents the branches of government from usurping power from one another. In this sense, it anticipates or seeks to prevent the intrusion of one arm of government into the terrain of another.”
In recent months, Mbete and Parliament has been cited as respondents in court actions launched by opposition parties. This included a case where opposition parties want a secret ballot when the debate on the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma takes place. The Constitutional Court has yet to rule on the matter.
Mbete warned against judicial overreach.
“With structures such as the rules committees, the chief whips’ forum and the committee of chairpersons, we are well placed to meaningfully resolve disagreements and effectively execute our mandate without inviting the courts to encroach on our constitutionally protected terrain.”
– African News Agency (ANA)