South Africa – EFF says Speaker Mbete has constitutional obligation to have secret ballot

Mail and Guardian

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi. (Gallo)
Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi. (Gallo)

The National Assembly speaker has an obligation and the powers to ensure that a motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma is conducted through a secret ballot, argued the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, representing the EFF at the Constitutional Court on Monday, said Baleka Mbete has a constitutional obligation to allow a motion of no confidence conducted through a secret ballot.

“The speaker is mistaken by saying that she has no discretion to allow the secret ballot …If the court explains to the court that she has a discretion, it does no violence to the separation of powers,” said Ngcukaitobi

According to Ngcukaitobi, the speaker’s reluctance on the matter hinders the possibility of ensuring that the voting process is done through conscience and not party allegiance and because going against the party could be potential harmful, it is necessary that the Constitutional Court offers the “judicial protection that is required for members of parliament to vote with their conscience … one never knows what the removal holds”.

“Members of Parliament must decide according to their personal conscience. We are not concerned with the outcome of the vote,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Advocate Dali Mpofu who was arguing on behalf of the United Democratic Movement (UDM) echoed Ngcukaitobi’s sentiments.

“The speaker has an obligation to arrange for a secret ballot. The speaker is, by law, the embodiment of the National Assembly,” said Mpofu.

 

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