Mbete: ANC MPs know how to vote in no confidence motion

Speaking on the sidelines of the ANC’s policy conference this weekend Mbete made it clear that the party knows how to vote.

FILE: National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

CAPE TOWN – Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete says African National Congress (ANC) Members of Parliament (MPs) know how to vote on the upcoming motion of no confidence in the President.

Mbete says she hasn’t yet decided if the vote will happen in secret.

Political parties still have until the 14th of July to submit their views.

Speaking on the sidelines of the ANC’s policy conference this weekend, Mbete made it clear that the party knows how to vote.

“What the ANC itself has said already, and that’s that. It’s really of no major material basis that technically the votes would be either secret or not because at the end of the day, ANC MPs know how to vote. They have done it seven times.

“So this eighth time can’t be different, it doesn’t matter whether is secret or no secret.”

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

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 that 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”.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)