South Africa 7.8.2017 03:55 pm

Mbete decides vote against Zuma will be secret

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

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

Speaker says openness and transparency demand a display of courage and resolution – unexpectedly opting in favour of secrecy.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has announced the voting procedure to be followed during Tuesday’s much-anticipated motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma will be conducted by way of a secret ballot.

Addressing the media in parliament, Mbete said she took the extraordinary approach “in the interest of transparency” and her decision is the best interests of the country.

“Having considered all the factors and mindful of the fact that this decision is not setting a precedent, I determine that voting on the motion of no confidence in the president will be by secret ballot,” she said.

She said she would not recuse herself from preceding over the motion as requested by some opposition parties, saying this had “no constitutional basis and is legally misplaced”.

Opposition parties, who asked for the secret ballot, had threatened to challenge Mbete’s decision in court after the Constitutional Court in June left it to her discretion to decide on the voting procedure.

The ConCourt said the speaker had to consider the prevailing circumstances before making her decision on the secret ballot request, such as rationality and parliament’s constitutional mandate to hold the executive to account.

ANC MPs have been warned by the governing party to toe the party line when they cast their ballots in the eighth motion of no confidence against Zuma in the National Assembly.

The party’s outspoken MPs Makhosi Khosa, Pravin Gordhan, Mondli Gungubele and Derek Hanekom have all stated their intention to vote with their conscience during the vote.

Opposition parties are expected to brief the media during a joint press briefing later today in parliament.

Mbete, coughing rather dramatically and drinking a glass of water before announcing her big decision, declared she would not take questions on the matter.

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