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ConCourt to hear case for secret ballot in Zuma no confidence vote

Opposition parties will march to the Constitutional Court from the Mary Fitzgerald Square in support of the secret ballot bid.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma in Parliament. Picture: Anthony Molyneaux/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Constitutional Court is expected to hear the United Democratic Movement (UDM)'s case for a secret ballot in a vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma on Monday.

A debate on the fifth motion of no confidence in the president was scheduled for last month following the controversial Cabinet reshuffle which saw Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan being axed but it was postponed by National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete on the request of opposition parties, to await the outcome of the court application.

Opposition parties will march to the Constitutional Court from the Mary Fitzgerald Square in support of the secret ballot bid.

The UDM is expected to argue that a secret ballot is an essential democratic right and that just as a president is elected by Parliament through a secret ballot, the removal of the same president should be handled in the same way.

The party also claims that African National Congress (ANC) MPs are being intimidated and threatened with losing their jobs to force them to vote against the motion.

But both the president and the Speaker of Parliament are challenging the UDM’s interpretation of the Constitution and the rules of the House.

In their separate responding submissions, they argue that the question of the secret ballot is not for the Constitutional Court to decide, with Mbete saying that while she is not personally opposed to a secret vote, the rules of the National Assembly do not give her the power to order a secret ballot.

The president submitted that the UDM itself has admitted that there is no Constitutional mandate for the vote to be made in secret and so is not competent, adding that claims made by the party that MPs were being threatened are unfounded as they are not supported by any evidence.