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Budlender: No secret ballot will make it impossible to hold Zuma accountable

Advocate Geoff Budlender has argued that the constitutional structure would be undermined if party members don't vote according to their conscience.

The Constitutional Court. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – Advocate Geoff Budlender has told the Constitutional Court that without a secret ballot it will be impossible to hold President Jacob Zuma accountable.

Budlender presented his argument in the UDM's case representing Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac).

The United Democratic Movement wants the court to give parliament the go ahead to vote in secret in the upcoming motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma.

However, the National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete insists the rules of Parliament don't provide for a secret ballot.

Budlender has argued that the constitutional structure would be undermined if party members don't vote according to their conscience, adding if there is an open ballot people, people will fear reprisal.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng then asked him if ordering Mbete to hold a secret ballot would not amount to overreach.

“What would explain this court’s position that you have a discretion but we are telling you now that it must be by secret ballot. What entitles us to do that?”

The advocate says while Parliament is the master of its own procedures, the courts are there to make sure it acts in line with the constitution.

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