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Analysis: What Constitution says about secret ballot in motion of no confidence

11 April 2017 9:59 AM

UDM wants MPs to vote by secret ballot when Parliament debates the motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma.

Political analyst, Professor Richard Calland, says any exercise of public power must be faithful to the Constitution, including on issues such as the vote of no confidence against the President.

However, Calland also explains that Members of Parliament (MPs) are also accountable to the political parties that appointed them to parliament.

That gives huge power to the party bosses. It means you can be disciplined, thrown out of the ANC, lose your salary, lose your pension benefit.

Prof Richard Calland, public law professor at UCT

Questions have been raised around the responsibilities of MPs, and whether they should remain loyal to the political parties they serve in Parliament or act in the interests of the people.

African National Congress (ANC) secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, has said ANC MPs will not vote with the opposition when the National Assembly debates a motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma next Tuesday.

On Monday, the United Democratic Movement (UDM) served papers to Parliament seeking direct access to the Constitutional Court to allow members to vote by a secret ballot.

Read: Mbete doesn't have powers to grant voting through secret ballot - Parliament

UDM argues that neither the Constitution nor the rules of the National Assembly provide for a vote of no confidence to be conducted by secret ballot.

Calland explains that the Constitutional Court may rule in favor of the UDM if there is evidence that members are threatened to exercise their constitutional duty.

If the issue here is there are conflicting messages from different parts of the Constitution. If rules of Parliament are not clear. If there is evidence in front of the court, for example you have mentioned DD Mabuza, if it's true that there are threats against members of Parliament....

Prof Richard Calland, public law professor at UCT

Listen to the audio below for more analysis...


11 April 2017 9:59 AM