With the two biggest parties in Parliament, the ANC and DA, not favouring the UDM’s proposal for a weighted voting system to handle Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s impeachment, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa mooted going to court about the matter.
The National Assembly Rules Committee met on Wednesday to discuss Holomisa’s proposal.
The National Assembly, on 16 March, voted to impeach Mkhwebane, with the UDM among the parties who voted against the motion.
After that, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, announced that the committee’s 26 members would be made up from each of the 14 political parties represented in the National Assembly.
Only 11 MPs will be voting members of the committee, and the remaining 15 will be non-voting members.
Holomisa is among the non-voting members, while the ANC, DA, EFF, IFP and FF Plus have voting members.
In a letter to Modise, Holomisa said political parties represent different constituencies and, therefore, hold different positions. He said it is important for these positions and divergent views to be reflected in all the decision-making processes of Parliament, starting with the committee process.
He accused the “so-called large parties” of arrogance and hubris.
According to Holomisa, it is “problematic, wholly undemocratic and unconstitutional” that smaller parties are not allowed to vote in the Section 194 Committee, which is why he proposed a weighted voting system for all ad hoc and Section 194 committees.
“In a weighted voting system, each political party in a Section 194 committee will have a weighted vote as determined by the percentage of the electorate they represent. This system will ensure that parties will not have a disproportionate influence over voting outcomes.”
On Wednesday, UDM MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa stated his leader’s case to the Rules Committee.
The IFP and smaller parties, like the NFP and Al Jamah-Ah, supported the proposal, but it didn’t convince the ANC, DA and FF Plus.
DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said she thought Modise handled the matter very fairly.
She said it would be completely unfair to the parties, who worked very hard to obtain their numbers, to have the same voting rights as minuscule parties.
“That is what the electorate chose. We must always maintain the will of the people,” Mazzone said.
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina said the current rules do not provide for weighted voting, and the Section 194 committee is no different than any other committee.
She said all parties were part of the Rules Committee in June 2019 when the rules for the Sixth Parliament were agreed upon.
EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu said the electorate’s will must be reflected at all times, but giving five parties one vote, doesn’t make sense.
“How do you cast that vote when they have differences?”
FF Plus chief whip Corné Mulder said the ANC had come a long way in accommodating other parties. He said the final decision will be taken in the House, and that outcome will be absolutely weighted.
The deputy speaker, Lechesa Tsenoli, said he would convey the meeting’s discussion to Modise, who will make the decision.
Shortly after the meeting, Holomisa again wrote to Modise.
“I understand, after having been approached by the media for comment this afternoon, that the Rules Committee has considered the matter and has rejected the UDM’s proposal,” he wrote.
“The UDM, herewith, urgently requests a formal letter from your office informing us of the outcome of the meeting, as well as a copy of the minutes of the aforementioned Rules Committee meeting, with the purpose of seeking judicial review outside Parliament.”
Court proceedings could possibly delay the start of the impeachment.