Opposition parties rejoice as Mbete gives secret ballot thumbs up
Baleka Mbete has decided to allow Members of Parliament to cast a secret ballot in a motion of no confidence against Jacob Zuma.
CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - Opposition Parties have reacted positively to news that Tuesday's vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma will be conducted by secret ballot.
National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete says after considering a variety of factors, including legal advice and the views of political parties, she is allowing Members of Parliament to cast a secret ballot in the Democratic Alliance (DA)-led motion.
She made her announcement in Parliament on Monday afternoon.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane has been speaking at a briefing with other opposition leaders on Monday afternoon outside Parliament.
“Today’s judgement safeguards and brings a victory to the Constitution of the Republic and the supremacy of the rule of law. The decision by the Speaker gives us the opportunity to start to set South Africa in the right direction.”
Maimane says this is an opportunity for ruling party MPs to do the right thing.
“The secret ballot gives an opportunity for members regardless of the political party they come from, to freely and fairly exercise their consciences, particularly those who have been intimidated, threatened and those offered bribes.”
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema says they are lobbying African National Congress (ANC) members, encouraging them to vote Zuma out of office.
“Our democracy is indeed working; we’re talking to members of the ANC and we’re not going to stop talking to them until an announcement is made. The lobbying will end when they announce that Zuma is no longer the President."
Malema added: “We are convinced that ANC members will do the right thing. It is now the opportunity for them to demonstrated that they too are tired corruption which is happening in this country.”
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa, whose party took the secret ballot matter to the Constitutional Court, has appealed to all public representatives to use the opportunity to do the right thing.
“Any member who is threatened, either by his or her party or any other person, is now covered both in terms of voting method and in law. It is time for public representatives to be honest to their oath of office and to South Africans, irrespective of the political party that one comes from.”
But Pieter Groenwald of the Vryheids Vront Plus has cautioned against over confidence in the wake of the decision.
“In a certain sense, the fact that the Speaker made the decision she made can also be seen that they are sure that their people will tow the party line to say that it is in the interest of the ANC and not of the President as such.”
The Speaker says a secret vote on a motion of no confidence in Zuma will test the resilience of South Africa’s democratic institutions.
Mbete says although Parliament’s business is usually conducted in public, there are circumstances that necessitate a secret ballot.
“The Constitutional Court has indicated that a secret ballot is necessary where the prevailing atmosphere is toxifying or highly charged.”
She told journalists that she had a duty to act responsibly when exercising her constitutional powers.
“The Speaker must maintain and preserve the order of and the proper decorum in the House and uphold the dignity and good name of the House.”
WATCH: Mbete announces her decision on secret ballot
ANC WELCOME SECRET BALLOT DECISION
The ANC has also welcomed the decision by to hold Tuesday's motion by secret ballot.
Spokesperson Zizi Kodwa says they still believe ANC MPs will vote to keep Zuma in power.
“We were never arm shaken as the ANC has sent disciplined members who understand that among other, we’ve got a responsibility to uphold the ANC party discipline.”
Meanwhile, ANC stalwarts are urging the party MPs to approach what they call the moment of truth on Tuesday cautiously and demonstrate their commitment to the country.
The stalwarts have reminded ANC MPs that the decision they make will not only be judged in the weeks to come but will be written into history.
ANC veteran Cheryl Carolus says all South Africans have to accept joint responsibility for the detreating state of leadership in the country.
Carolus says citizens must take a stand and reclaim the soul of the nation.
“The August local government election last year was a very resounding message to the ANC, which the ANC, my organisation, will ignore ... whichis why we cannot afford to be sanctioning the behaviour of a president as the rule to have violated the Constitution.”
(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)