Speaker allows secret ballot

Monday, August 7, 2017

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has announced that the voting in the motion of no confidence in the President will be done by a means of a secret ballot.

The Speaker said this when she briefed journalists at the Chamber of Good Hope in Parliament on Monday.

Making the announcement, the Speaker said she arrived at her decision after weighing a number of factors.

She said while the electorate had a right to know how their representatives -- who took an Oath of Office -- vote while in the house, she also had to consider the environment in which MPs would vote, also taking their security into consideration.

The decision, she said, was coupled with ensuring a spirit of transparency.

“This decision is therefore in the best interest of the country. The Speaker is required to guard the procedure of this house and to ensure that the outcome of this very important vote is credible.

“The Speaker must do this without fear or favour. It is with that in mind that this decision is also about putting the resilience of our democratic institution to test.

“Having considered all the factors, and mindful of the fact that this decision is not setting a precedent, I determine that voting on the motion of no confidence in the President on 8 August 2017 will be by secret ballot,” she said.

This afternoon’s announcement comes after Constitutional Court Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng ruled in June that the Speaker has the Constitutional power to determine if motions of no confidence should be conducted by way of a secret ballot or not.

At the time, Parliament issued a statement emphasising that it would abide by the court order.

Parliament also said at the time that as the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Speaker had no personal or in-principle opposition to the use of a secret ballot in a vote of no confidence in the President.

The court decision stems from opposition party United Democratic Movement’s application, asking the court to give Parliament the go ahead to allow Members of Parliament (MPs) to vote in secret in a proposed motion of no confidence against President Zuma.

The Constitutional Court ruled that the Speaker of the National Assembly was, as the presiding officer of the National Assembly, empowered to rule on whether or not to allow a secret ballot in the motion tabled a few months ago for a vote of no confidence against the President by the opposition. 

On Monday, the Speaker said it was her duty to exercise caution when she applies her mind on the method of voting, considering the clarity provided by the Constitutional Court.

She said the decision to grant the secret ballot on the no confidence vote was in the best interest of the country. – SAnews.gov.za