STATEMENT BY SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY REGARDING REQUESTS FOR SCHEDULING OF MOTION OF NO CONFIDENT IN THE PRESIDENT
Earlier today I arrived back to South Africa from Bangladesh, where I was leading a multiparty delegation of the South African Parliament to the Assembly of the International Parliamentary Unions (IPU). The IPU Assembly, which was hosted by the Bangladeshi Parliament and brings together 53 Speakers from various Parliaments and 650 Members of Parliament from 132 countries, began its crucial 136th Session on 29 March and is scheduled to conclude its business on Thursday, 6 April. How Parliaments of the World, who are members of the IPU, can take decisive actions to end economic, political and social inequality in the world, is the focal point of the discussions.
As a member country to the IPU, our participation in the biannual Assembly Sessions is crucial, in the context of our strategic objectives on international affairs, parliamentary diplomacy and the ever more critical need for global unity in tackling world's socio-economic challenges.
Crucial as our role in this Session was, I had to cut my participation in the light of the recent changes in the executive arm of the State, which have given rise to developments that have thrust the Constitutional role of Parliament into the matter. These developments include the Speaker of the National Assembly being cited as a respondent in the matter between the Official Opposition and the President of the Republic at the Western Cape High Court, in which the Official Opposition sought to interdict the swearing-in of new Members of the Executive. The Court was, amongst others, asked to compel Parliament to urgently schedule a Motion of No Confidence in the President. No finding was made against the Speaker in respect of the relief sought by the Official Opposition.
On Thursday, 30 March, the office of the Speaker received a request from the leader of the Opposition for a motion of no confidence in the President to be scheduled. The letter indicated that the motion be scheduled when Parliament reconvenes. Later on the same day, a similar request was received from the Leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). The letter from the EFF made a further request for the National Assembly to be convened for a special sitting in the week of 3 April to debate and vote on a similar Motion.
On Friday, 31 March, my Office received a further letter, again from the Official Opposition, requesting that the National Assembly resume its business earlier to process the Motion.
The procedure for processing a motion of no confidence, which is a right Members of Parliament enjoy in line with the oversight function of Parliament, is stipulated in the rules of the National Assembly.
Once such a request is submitted to the Speaker, the Rules outlines the following process:
1. Assessment of the request to ascertain if it is compliant with the appropriate Rules.
2. Consultation with the Chief Whip of the Majority Party and the Leader of Government Business, who is the Deputy President of the Republic.
3. Scheduling of the Motion within a reasonable time given the programme of the Assembly.
The National Assembly Members are currently undertaking their constituency responsibilities across the country and are scheduled to return to Parliament from beginning of May. The consultation process prescribed by the rules is meant to deal with these issues.
Given the seriousness inherent in the Motions of Confidence and their implications on the nation, I have therefore decided to cut my working trip to Bangladesh to ensure that these requests are given the appropriate consideration. I will therefore, without any delay, begin a process contemplated in the Rules in the consideration of the requests submitted.
Once the consultation process is concluded, my Office will duly write to all the parties involved to advise them of the outcome.
The EFF has also asked Parliament to advise on the process that would be followed in an event a motion of no confidence is agreed to by the House. The constitution clearly stipulates what happens should a motion of no confidence be carried in sections 86, 88 and 90.
I also wish to take this opportunity to address a matter which has come to my Office during my absence in the form of a correspondence from the former Minister of Communications. The former Minister sought to suggest that new SABC Board may not undertake their functions until vetted and their appointment by the President is countersigned by her.
The letter of the former Minister will also be considered and responded to.
However, I must make it clear that the President is the appointing authority, and that the Broadcasting Act prescribes that the Interim Board must be appointed within 10 days of the dissolution of the Board by the National Assembly to the President. Our perspective is that the National Assembly has complied with its mandate. If the Minister has concerns about the appointment process, those are matters that should be raised with the appointing authority.
ISSUED BY PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA