ANC national chairwoman and National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete File picture: Nosipiwo Manona/ANA
Johannesburg - The Constitution does not impose a secret vote on a motion of no confidence on the National Assembly but only confers power on it to pass the motion through the secret ballot if it is supported by a majority, the Constitutional Court heard on Monday.  

Senior counsel Marumo Moerane, for National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, argued that the latter's action is subject to the NA decision. 

"The power of the National Assembly to make such a decision is derived from Section 57 of the Constitution... the Speaker is subject to the decision of the National Assembly, she cannot overwrite NA decisions and order a secret vote for a motion of no confidence against the President," said Moerane. 

He cited rulings by three Western Cape high court judges who held that such a NA procedure is not a requirement according to the Constitution.  

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng asked him why general elections were held through secret ballot and not an open vote. 

"What do you think is the rationale behind a secret vote in relation to the election of the President? Why is it necessary? Why no open vote where people gather and raise their hands?" asked Mogoeng. 

Pressed for a reply, Moerane said that in his view, such a move was meant to "limit negative influence".  

He added that vulnerable voters may be influenced by those with authority over them, hence a need for country's elections to be in a form of a secret ballot. Moerane told the justices that the issue was not whether a secret vote was permissible, but whether it was obligatory.

African News Agency