No confidence motion on Zuma set for next month

FILE PICTURE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

An opposition motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma will be debated in the National Assembly on February 24.

The motion was brought by AgangSA and placed on the schedule of the National Assembly at a programming committee meeting on Thursday morning.

It was confirmed by parliamentary spokesman Luzuko Jacobs.

Agang tabled the motion in November and in December filed papers in the Constitutional Court asking that it be voted on by way of secret ballot, though parliamentary rules only provide for a secret vote when MPs elect the president.

The debate will come less than a fortnight after Zuma’s state-of-the-nation address and just more than two years after several opposition parties tried to table a motion of no confidence in him.

At the time the programming committee, chaired by then speaker Max Sisulu, was deadlocked on whether to schedule the debate, with ANC members firmly opposing it.

The Democratic Alliance took the matter to the Western Cape High Court where Judge Denis Davis dismissed its application, finding that the Speaker was not empowered by the rules of the national assembly to take whatever steps necessary for a motion of no confidence to be debated.

The issue then went to the Constitutional Court, which found that a relevant section of the parliamentary rules was unconstitutional and gave the legislature six months to amend it.

Early last year, Parliament duly adopted a new rule that allows any MP to table a motion of no confidence and obliging the Speaker to ensure it is scheduled, debated and voted on within a reasonable period of time, given the assembly’s schedule.

The motion will add to pressure on the president, who will deliver his opening address on February 12. The Economic Freedom Fighters have threatened to use that occasion to corner him about the cost to taxpayers of some of the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.

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