Parliament responds to ConCourt ruling on secret ballot
Parliament said on Thursday it would abide by a Constitutional Court ruling on whether or not MPs can vote in secret in a motion of no confidence in the president.
The court found that it was up to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to decide for or against a secret ballot.
Mbete had argued that she had no such authority.
Below is the complete statement issued by parliament on Thursday.
PARLIAMENT COMMITTED TO GIVE EFFECT TO DECISION OF CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
Parliament welcomes the direction provided today by the Constitutional Court regarding the application for a secret ballot in a vote of no confidence in the President. The Court has ruled that the Speaker of the National Assembly has the Constitutional power to determine if motions of no confidence should be conducted by way of a secret ballot or not.
Parliament wishes to reaffirm its commitment to give effect to the decision of the court.
The Speaker of the National Assembly 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 confirmed this fact.
The view held by the Speaker was that she had no powers to grant the secret ballot in motions of no confidence‚ as informed by the prevailing factors:
• The Constitution provides for the use of secret ballot in respect of the election of a President‚ but is silent regarding the removal.
• Section 102 of the Constitution‚ which outlines the procedure for motions of no confidence‚ makes no provision for voting to be conducted through a secret ballot.
• The rules of the National Assembly do not provide for secret voting.
• In 2015 the Western Cape High Court dismissed an application which sought to force the National Assembly to vote on a motion of no confidence by secret ballot. The court ruled‚ among others‚ that there was no implied or express constitutional requirement for voting by secret ballot in motions of no confidence in the President.
The Constitutional Court in this regard was called to intercede to provide authoritative Constitutional clarification and guidance on the matter. The Speaker’s view was a cautious one. As a creation of the Constitution‚ she has to ensure that all her decisions are firmly in line with the Constitution‚ the law and the Rules of the National Assembly.
Now that the Court has clarified that the Speaker has the powers under the Constitution to conduct motions of no confidence by way of a secret ballot‚ she will‚ accordingly‚ ensure the judgment is given effect.