/ 11 September 2014

ANC backs Mbete ahead of no-confidence motion

ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete.
ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete.

The ANC in Parliament on Thursday gave ringing endorsement to Baleka Mbete’s performance as National Assembly speaker, minutes ahead of a no-confidence motion in her abilities moved by the Democratic Alliance (DA).

Rising to deliver the first motion of the day, ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani told MPs that Mbete had acquitted herself well, both as an outstanding veteran of the liberation movement and as speaker.

“Her vast experience … stands her in good stead to lead this Parliament for the next five years, and [we] express [our] fullest confidence in her leadership in this legislature,” he said to loud applause from ruling party benches, and heckling from the other side of the House.

Condemnation of her abilities
Following Sizani, DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane stood to move a motion condemning Mbete, and her abilities as speaker.

“The DA … condemns the speaker for remaining the chairperson of the ANC while serving as speaker of this House.”

He further condemned Mbete for cancelling meetings of the parliamentary oversight authority, and for not acceding to requests to have this authority meet more frequently.

“[The DA also] condemns the speaker for making political appointments to her office from unelected ex-MPs costing millions of rands.”

Maimane further cited Mbete’s “inability to resolve matters quickly”, and what he called her failure to protect the House from spurious points of order that disrupted its smooth running.

“We therefore pass a motion of no confidence against the speaker,” he said.

The motion will now be placed on a list of motions for debate in the House.

‘Obstacle to constructive debate’
On Wednesday, five opposition parties issued a joint statement advising that a motion of no confidence in Mbete would be passed.

The Congress of the People, DA, Economic Freedom Fighters, Freedom Front Plus, and United Democratic Movement said Mbete had become “an obstacle to constructive debate and executive oversight in Parliament”.

They said she could not, in good conscience, simultaneously hold the office of ANC chairperson and speaker.

“Her role in various scandals in the past, her on-the-record defence of state expenditure on President Jacob Zuma’s private residence at Nkandla, her involvement in the ANC leadership, her appointment of a number of ANC politicians to key parliamentary positions, and her inability to maintain order in the House, all disqualify her from continuing in this position.”

The parties said Mbete stood in the way of vigorous and open debate.

“The bottom line is, she is not an appropriate choice for speaker,” the parties said. – Sapa