Date changed for motion of no confidence in Zuma

The Speaker of the National Assembly has decided to revise the date announced for the motion of no confidence to 8 August.

President Jacob Zuma and National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete outside Parliament ahead of State of the Nation Address in 2015. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN – The date for a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma has been pushed back by a few days.

Last week, Parliament scheduled the vote to take place on 3 August 2017.

According to a statement, there was an oversight during the initial consultations and determination of the originally announced date, which overlooked the fact that a Cabinet Lekgotla had already been set for that week.

Political parties still have until 14 July to submit their views on whether the vote should happen in secret.

Speaker Baleka Mbete will make her decision regarding the appropriate voting procedure before the scheduled debate on 8 August.

Last month, the Constitutional Court ruled that the Speaker was empowered by parliamentary rules to allow for a secret ballot.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said: "The Speaker says that neither the Constitution nor the rules of the National Assembly allow her to authorise a vote by secret ballot. To this extent, she was mistaken. Our interpretation of the relevant provisions of the Constitution and the rules make it clear, that the Speaker does have the power to authorise a vote by a secret ballot in a motion of no confidence in the president in appropriate circumstances was invalid and must be set aside."

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) and other opposition parties approached the court in May to give Parliament a go-ahead to vote in secret.

Mogoeng also made it clear the court can't decide for Mbete what decision to take, whatever it is must be rational and Mbete must take it in the spirit of ensuring accountability of the executive.

The Chief Justice said Speaker Mbete should use the existing parliamentary rules to decide on whether to have a motion of no confidence against the president in secret or not.

“Rules 103 and 104 do empower the Speaker to have a motion of no confidence in the president voted on by secret ballot.”

Additional reporting by Clement Manyathela & Rahima Essop.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)