Secret ballot or not? Mbete still undecided

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

FILE: President Jacob Zuma and Speaker Baleka Mbete in conversation while walking down the red carpet ahead of the State of the Nation Address on 11 February 2016. Picture: Aletta Harrison/EWN.

SOWETO - National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete says she has not yet decided if the vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma will happen in secret.

Mbete was speaking on the sidelines of the ANC's policy conference on Sunday afternoon.

“I’m still waiting to hear the views of different political parties. I wrote to them and said I just want to hear their views so that I can also take them into consideration as I’m making the final decision.”

Political parties have until 14 July to submit their views.

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

WATCH: What a motion of no confidence means for president and co.

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

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

The argument by Mbete that she doesn't have the discretion or is under no obligation to allow for a secret ballot was been dealt a blow.

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."

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.

“It is her judgment call to make, having due regard to what would be the best procedure to ensure that members exercise their oversight powers most effectively.”

The Chief Justice said Speaker Mbete must 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.”

The court said because Mbete indicated she had never been opposed to a secret ballot, the rules have been clarified to give her powers to hold it, she must make a fresh decision on “a proper and rational basis”.

Additional reporting by Rahima Essop.