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AgangSA seeks urgent interdict to stop vote of no confidence debate

The party which had tabled the motion last November wants MPs to vote by way of a secret ballot.

FILE: The party which had tabled the motion last November wants MPs to vote by way of a secret ballot. Picture: Sapa

CAPE TOWN - AgangSA is seeking an urgent interdict from the Western Cape High Court today to stop Members of Parliament (MPs) from debating a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma next week.

The party which had tabled the motion last November wants MPs to vote on the motion in Parliament by way of a secret ballot and for National Assembly Speaker, Baleka Mbete, to recuse herself from presiding over the matter.

It wants the court to rule on the issue before the debate and vote goes ahead but the party's legal challenge suffered a blow earlier this week when the Constitutional Court dismissed its application for direct access.

AgangSA's attorney Stefan Hill says, "The state attorney is alleging that the self-created urgency and we will obviously oppose the argument of self-created urgency and proceed with asking the judge to entertain us with the interim application."

Other opposition parties aren't impressed. The matter came up at Thursday's National Assembly's programming committee.

Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen says AgangSA's legal action means other opposition parties are now prevented from bringing their own motion of no-confidence in the president.

"It's essentially also now blocking other parties ability to exercise their Constitutional right to place a motion on the audit paper and that can't be right."

African National Congress and opposition MPs in 2012 clashed over whether a motion of no confidence in the president could be debated before the ruling party's crucial elective conference in Mangaung.

In an unprecedented move two years ago, several opposition parties tried to have a motion of no confidence in the president debated but the ruling party blocked attempts to schedule the debate.

The issue went all the way to the Constitutional Court.

But the country's top court essentially sent political parties back to Parliament to work out the issues there.