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The secret is out

Mbete's announcement comes as Parliament braces for Tuesday's opposition-led Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

FILE: Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has announced that the motion of no confidence vote in President Jacob Zuma will be by secret ballot.

Opposition parties had wanted a secret ballot to protect African National Congress (ANC) members from any retribution if they vote against the President.

She was addressing the media in Parliament.

“I, therefore, determine that voting on the motion of no confidence in the President on 8 August 2017 will be by secret ballot.”

Mbete says she is objective and decided not to recuse herself because she is a member of the ANC.

She says the decision was hers to make.

“Although the Constitution does not prescribe a specific voting procedure for the removal of the President by way of a motion of no confidence, it does permit for a voting procedure which may either be by way of an open vote or secret ballot. And the making of such a decision lies exclusively with the Speaker in terms of the rules of the National Assembly.”

The Speaker told journalists during a media briefing on Monday that she considered legal advice and the views of political parties when deciding on the most appropriate voting procedure.

“I understand and accept that I must be duly guided by the need to ensure that members exercise their oversight powers effectively.”

She says although South Africans are allowed to know how their MPs vote in the House, a secret ballot is necessary for a highly charged and toxic environment.

“The value of openness and transparency is always our natural manner of conducting business. The constitutional court has, however, compelled us to consider a variety of other factors.”

The Democratic Alliance (DA), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), African Christian Democratic Party, and some members of the African National Congress (ANC), as well as the South African Communist Party (SACP), had indicated that they will vote against President Zuma.

Last week, ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu warned party members against voting with the opposition, saying removing Zuma would be damaging for the country.

WATCH: Mbete announces her decision on secret ballot

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