Malema: Speaker must decide on secret ballot for Zuma no-confidence motion

Julius Malema and the Inkatha Freedom Party back the United Democratic Movement's court bid to get Speaker Baleka Mbete to decide whether a no-confidence vote in the president can be by secret ballot. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Julius Malema and the Inkatha Freedom Party back the United Democratic Movement's court bid to get Speaker Baleka Mbete to decide whether a no-confidence vote in the president can be by secret ballot. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has said that it would be “unlawful” if National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete did not make a decision on the use of a secret ballot during the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

In an affidavit filed at the Constitutional Court on Tuesday, Malema pledged the EFF’s support of the United Democratic Movement’s (UDM) application for the court to compel Mbete to make a decision on a secret ballot for the motion of no confidence vote.

Malema argued in court papers that Mbete and former president Kgalema Motlanthe had been elected to their positions in Parliament by secret ballot. In both instances, the Democratic Alliance had nominated other opponents to the ANC candidates, which resulted in a secret ballot being held.

The ANC still secured the majority vote on both occasions.

“It is a clear that the mere fact that an election is by a secret vote per se does not inhibit a party from canvassing its position of its members who are also members of Parliament,” Malema said in court papers.

He argued that the rules of Parliament “specifically clothe” Mbete, as the speaker, with discretion in the National Assembly. The EFF leader said the court should “direct” Mbete to “discharge her obligation” so that the national executive is held to account.

“It is accordingly simply unlawful for the speaker to refuse to exercise her discretion in the matter,” Malema said.

Mbete has previously said that she does not have the power to apply a secret ballot in Parliament, but constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos has written that the speaker does have discretion, according to National Assembly rule 103 and 104.

“The speaker has claimed that she does not have a discretion to order a secret ballot. This claim is either deliberately misleading or the result of a lack of intellectual inquisitiveness on the part of the speaker,” De Vos wrote.

The Inkatha Freedom Party has also filed papers supporting the UDM’s bid. 

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