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'ConCourt can't dictate to Parliament'

Former MP says it's important both the judiciary and Parliament’s independence is not violated.

Parliament.

JOHANNESBURG - Former African National Congress (ANC) Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga has called for a debate on the separation of powers between the Constitutional Court and Parliament.

The court ruled on Monday that Parliament's rules were not in line with the constitution as it did not allow Members of Parliament (MPs) to have a motion of no confidence scheduled for debate.

In November last year, Democratic Alliance (DA) Parliamentary Leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, supported by seven opposition parties, tabled a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma in the National Assembly and requested an urgent debate.

But when MPs could not agree on when the debate should be scheduled, the issue was taken to the Western Cape High Court.

Even though the case was dismissed, the court found that a debate on a motion of no confidence cannot be unreasonably delayed.

Mazibuko then took the matter to the Constitutional Court.

In March this year, the court heard an application for among the other things, an order declaring that Parliament failed to fulfil a constitutional obligation.

The ConCourt dismissed the DA's case in a ruling handed down on Monday.

Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said the rules of the National Assembly are inconsistent with the constitution and does not provide for a political party or an MP to have a motion of no confidence in the president scheduled for debate.

The court further ruled that the Speaker of Parliament has no veto power to decide whether a motion of no confidence should be heard.

Motshekga said the Constitutional Court cannot dictate to Parliament about how to get its health in order.

He said Parliament has the right to regulate its own internal affairs and when it violates the constitution, the court will then have the right to step in within certain boundaries.

"If that is the route, it could mean that Parliament itself could say that the rules of court are out of order and therefore Parliament makes the rules for the court."

Moseneke gave the National Assembly six months to adjust these rules to ensure a motion of no confidence debate can take place within a reasonable time.

Motshekga said it's important that both the judiciary and Parliament's independence is not violated.

Mazibuko was ordered by the court to pay for the cost of the speaker's legal representation in both the High Court and the Constitutional Court.