Mapisa-Nqakula to decide on use of secret ballot in Ramaphosa no confidence vote

The ATM party tabled its motion of no confidence in February 2020, claiming state-owned enterprises had collapsed under Ramaphosa’s watch and alleging a range of other failures on his part.

Speaker of the National Assembly Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Picture: @ParliamentofRSA/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula will have to take a fresh decision on whether or not there should be a secret ballot when a motion of no confidence in President Cyril Ramaphosa is debated in Parliament.

That’s the ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal. In a judgment handed down on Thursday, the court upheld the appeal of the African Transformation Movement (ATM) against a decision of the Western Cape High Court.

The party tabled its motion of no confidence in February 2020, claiming state-owned enterprises had collapsed under Ramaphosa’s watch and alleging a range of other failures on his part.

Then Speaker Thandi Modise refused the ATM’s request for voting on the motion to be by secret ballot and the party went to court in an unsuccessful bid to have her decision set aside.

It then approached the Supreme Court of Appeal.

In a judgment penned by Supreme Court of Appeal judge Trevor Gorven, the National Assembly’s Speaker is directed to revisit the decision not to allow a secret ballot when the motion of no confidence in Ramaphosa is debated.

The Speaker has also been ordered to pay the costs of the ATM’s appeal, including that of two counsel.

The court found that Modise was wrong to expect the ATM to provide reasons for a secret ballot being necessary, and should rather have asked what voting procedure would best enable MPs to execute their oversight duties properly.

It said Modise’s approach was “fundamentally flawed” and that she misunderstood the nature of her discretion in deciding whether voting should be open or secret.

It will now be up to new speaker, Mapisa-Nqakula, to consider the matter afresh.