NEWS

ConCourt Sets Aside Mbete's Decision That Speaker Cannot Rule On Secret Ballot

"A motion of no confidence against the president is a very important matter."

22/06/2017 11:02 SAST | Updated 22/06/2017 13:57 SAST

The Constitutional Court has ruled that the speaker of the National Assembly was wrong to say that a secret ballot was not allowed in Parliament for a motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma. But Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said it would be a violation of the separation of powers to order National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete to conduct a secret ballot.

He also ruled that the president and the speaker must pay the costs for the applicants in the case.

The court passed judgment on Thursday on the United Democratic Movement's application to force National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to conduct the vote of no confidence on President Jacob Zuma as a secret ballot.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on Thursday delivered a judgment that included the stressing of accountability mechanisms and responsibility of the executive.

In it, he said the National Assembly did have powers to allow a secret ballot, but that "it's her judgement call to make". This counters her previous claims that she had no powers to decide on a motion of no confidence.

The application was brought by the UDM after Zuma removed Pravin Gordhan as finance minister, and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas. The controversial midnight reshuffle resulted in South Africa's credit ratings being downgraded to junk status. The UDM was joined by other opposition parties, including the Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters, which have tried on a few occasions to remove the president through open ballots.

Holomisa told HuffPost SA on Wednesday, whether the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of a secret ballot or not, the vote of no confidence against Zuma would still happen.

"The motion of no-confidence must still go ahead, especially now there are new revelations through the Gupta leaks," he said.

While Holomisa also said the anger he witnessed on the part of some in the ANC could mean MPs were angry enough to be openly vocal against Zuma, he didn't know how many would do so.

But Holomisa was most looking forward to watching what the likes of the former finance minister, current ANC president hopeful Cyril and the South African Communist Party leader -- who have all been outspoken about Zuma -- would do.

"It would be interesting to see how people like Pravin Gordhan, Cyril Ramaphosa, Blade Nzimande, who have been calling for Zuma to step down, [vote]. Now they are being given an opportunity to exercise their right. If they fail to do so, we will just dub them as nothing else than a bunch of liars, and bunch of hypocrites."

Holomisa said that if the secret ballot was agreed upon, it could take place by mid-August.