Mbete to consider secret ballot against Zuma … by consulting Cyril

The speaker is expected to decide on the matter – curiously – by seeking advice from Zuma’s known opponents in the ANC.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has scheduled the vote of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma for August 3 – but she still has to consult whether it would be by secret ballot or open ballot.

In a statement yesterday, Mbete said the Democratic Alliance had written to her asking that the DA’s motion of no confidence in the president be scheduled at the earliest convenience.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have also asked for the scheduling of the motion and also motivated for a secret ballot.

Recently, the Constitutional Court ruled that the speaker’s discretion should determine whether the vote on the motion be through secret ballot or openly.

The ConCourt application was submitted by the UDM and supported by several other opposition parties.

The ConCourt application for a secret vote was aimed at giving ANC MPs the chance to vote secretly, so that they would be able to vote with their conscience.

But the ruling party has already threatened its parliamentarians with “consequence” should they vote with the opposition.

Yesterday, Mbete said that in terms of Rule 129 of the National Assembly, once the motion was requested, she must accord such motion due priority.

Somewhat curiously, Mbete, before scheduling the motion for debate, said she must first consult with the leader of government business, Cyril Ramaphosa, and the chief whip of the majority ANC, Jackson Mthembu. They are both known Zuma opponents.

Ultimately, as the speaker, the decision rests entirely with her, as made clear by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng last month.

Mbete’s office said once she had undertaken the consultations, the motion of no confidence would be scheduled for August 3.

“This will necessitate that the National Assembly sits earlier than initially planned. This decision has taken into account that some committees of the Assembly are currently undertaking oversight visits and parliament has set aside July for constituency work,” a parliamentary statement said.

“The matter of whether the vote will be conducted through a secret ballot is receiving consideration,” it said.

Parliament said the UDM had also asked to meet with Mbete to discuss the matter of a secret ballot.

“Mindful that the power to make a determination regarding voting procedures solely rests with the speaker, as clarified by the Constitutional Court, the speaker has invited interested parties to submit their views regarding their preferred means of voting on this particular motion.

“The views of the parties, considered with a host of other factors, would assist the speaker to arrive at a decision,” the UDM said.