No-confidence rules set for court

The parliamentary rules affecting the proposed debate on the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma brought by eight of the 11 opposition parties are about to be aired in the Constitutional Court.

National Assembly speaker Max Sisulu filed a supplementary affidavit with the court on the progress achieved in ensuring that motions of no confidence were appropriately provided for in Parliament. As he was uncertain whether opposition parties and the ANC would achieve consensus in time for the court proceedings and as he had to remain impartial, Sisulu said he had asked his legal team to prepare a draft proposal of new rules.

Among the new rules in the draft proposal, it is stated that the speaker must schedule the motion after consultation with the leader of government business, the chief whip of the majority party and the chief whip's forum. When scheduled, consideration of the motion of no confidence must take place within a reasonable time, but no later than 12 sitting days.

Opposition parties and the ANC met on Wednesday, but again failed to reach consensus.

The Democratic Alliance's spokesperson on justice and constitutional development, Debbie Schafer, said the parties were fairly close to reaching an agreement with the ANC, but the main issue of contention had been the ANC's proposal to give the speaker discretion to decide whether or not a motion of no confidence could be debated.

Inherently urgent
Sisulu was given a directive by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to file a progress report on the review of the rules with the registrar of the court by March 14. This is intended to assist the court on March 28, when it will hear an application by DA leader Lindiwe Mazibuko for leave to appeal a Western Cape High Court judgment by Judge Dennis Davis.

Last year, Mazibuko sought an urgent order directing the speaker to take steps to ensure the no confidence debate took place on or before November 22. Davis identified a "lacuna" in the parliamentary rules, as he said a motion of no-confidence in the president was inherently urgent, the timing and scheduling of the motion could not be delayed unreasonably and steps must be taken to ensure it was scheduled expeditiously. However, Davis found that the National Assembly's rules did not empower Sisulu to schedule a debate and a vote on the motion, and thus the court could not order him to do what the rules did not permit.

In his progress report to the Constitutional Court, Sisulu said he had referred the matter to the National Assembly's subcommittee on review of assembly rules, which had been directed to report to the first meeting of the rules committee in early 2013. When the subcommittee met a second time, the ANC tabled a new draft of the rules.

"The members representing the opposition parties indicated they did not have a mandate pertaining to the new draft and needed to discuss it with their parties," said Sisulu.

 Cope MP Juli Kilian had unusual praise for Sisulu. "The speaker has now made a recommendation on the rules and he tried to find a common ground between the ANC position and the opposition position. The speaker understands that we are actually building an institution for generations to come."

This congeniality contrasted with the affidavit filed to the Constitutional Court by the ANC chief whip in the National Assembly, Mathole Motshekga, who said he believed that the motion of no confidence in Zuma was "frivolous" and "constituted political posturing".

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


Where is the deputy president?

David Mabuza is hard at work — it’s just not taking place in the public eye. The rumblings and discussion in the ANC are about factions in the ruling party, succession and ousting him

Zuma turns on judiciary as trial nears

Former president says pre-trial correspondence is part of another plot

SANDF inquiry clears soldiers of the death of Collins Khosa

The board of inquiry also found that it was Khosa and his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango who caused the altercation with the defence force members

Lockdown relief scheme payouts to employees tops R14-billion

Now employers and employees can apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for relief scheme payments

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday