Parliament to consult on motion of no confidence

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Pretoria - Parliament will begin a process of consultation following requests from opposition parties for Parliament to schedule a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

“Therefore, as of today, we begin a process of consultation contemplated in the rules in the consideration of the requests submitted. I envisage that the consultation should be concluded as soon as possible,” Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbeke said.

The Speaker, who arrived back into the country earlier on Sunday, cut short a trip where she led a multiparty delegation of the South African Parliament to the Assembly of the International Parliamentary Unions (IPU), in Bangladesh.

The Speaker cut her trip short as the Speaker of the National Assembly being cited as a respondent in the matter between the official opposition and the President at the Western Cape High Court. This as the official opposition sought to interdict the swearing-in of new Ministers.

The Court was amongst others, asked to compel Parliament to urgently schedule a Motion of No Confidence in the President. There was no finding made against the Speaker in respect of the relief sought by the Official Opposition.

Briefing reporters from the ACSA media centre at OR Tambo International Airport, Mbete said her office on Thursday 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 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,” she said.

On Friday, the Office of the Speaker again received a letter from the official opposition requesting that the National Assembly resume its business earlier to process the motion.

National Assembly members are currently undertaking their constituency responsibilities across the country. Members are scheduled to return to Parliament from the 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, decided to cut my working trip to Bangladesh to ensure that these requests are given the appropriate consideration.”

Responding to a question, the Speaker said the consultation process should take a few days. 

“It will take a few days, it won’t take months.”

Once the consultation process is concluded, the Office of the Speaker will write to all the parties involved to advise them of the outcome.

Processes of a motion of no confidence

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 outline the following process:

  • Assessment of the request to ascertain if it is compliant with the appropriate Rules.
  • Consultation with the Chief Whip of the Majority Party and the Leader of Government Business, who is the Deputy President of the Republic.
  • Scheduling of the Motion within a reasonable time given the programme of the Assembly.

Parliament’s role

“I must stress that I am alive to the extreme challenges and sense of anxiety our young democracy is going through at this moment. Our people are looking to Parliament to play its part and exercise its Constitutional responsibilities.”

The Speaker said South Africans are expecting institutions of democracy like Parliament to demonstrate decisive leadership.

“This is a responsibility that Parliament, for its part, does not take lightly. I, therefore, assure South Africans that this legislative arm of the State must and will rise to the occasion,” said Mbete. –

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