SA Motion Of No Confidence In Zuma: ConCourt Grants UDM Access Over Secret Ballot

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South Africa’s Constitutional Court has granted the United Democratic Movement (UDM) access to debate it’s secret balloting during the motion of no confidence in Zuma scheduled for April 18.

The party’s lawyer confirmed this on Tuesday saying though no specific date has been given for the crucial debate, Concourt granted the party a special access to argue its case for a secret ballot during next week’s motion of no confidence in Zuma.

This, however, means the motion might have to be postponed as the parties wishing to oppose the application have until 12:00 on Thursday to do so, and the applicant has to file his reply by 16:00 on Wednesday, 19 April.

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In the directive issued on Tuesday, the chief justice said the parties had to file their written submissions by 16:00 on Friday, April 21. By this small victory, the party is therefore permitted to write to the Speaker Baleka Mbete to ask for a postponement of the motion of no confidence in Zuma.

“The fact that we are going to be listened to is a victory for step one,” said UDM leader Bantu Holomisa who quickly added that should in case Mbete refuses to heed their request, they would put in an urgent application to stop the motion.

Speaking while filing the case to Concourt, Holomisa argued that this will give room for ANC MPs who are now being victimized for failing to toe the party line, to perform without the fear of further punishment. He said parliamentarians owe their duty to the Constitution and not the ANC.

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Explaining further why the UDM needed the secret ballot system of voting during the motion of no confidence in Zuma, Holomisa highlighted key points that formed the basis of the UDM’s argument in the court papers

This includes the fact that the constitution expressly requires that a secret ballot ought to be used when the president is elected. “It must follow that when the president is forced by the National Assembly to resign it must adopt the same procedure”, said Holomisa.

Again, he explained that the absence of a secret ballot undermines the no-confidence motion. According to the court papers, the Constitutional Court has previously described a motion of no confidence “as the most important mechanism that may be employed by Parliament to hold the executive to account … without a secret ballot, a motion of no confidence cannot properly fulfill its function as a tool to ensure maximum accountability of the president to National Assembly.”

“A secret ballot enables them to carry out this duty without fear of reprisals and removals and enables them to stay to their prescribed oath,” the court papers noted.

“Ultimately, we want to deal with this culture of intimidation. We have lost a secretary general in the past due to intimation. We do not want this to be acceptable behavior in South African politics. The African National Congress is known for intimidation and we want to deal with it decisively,” Holomisa said.