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Parliament, Cape Town - The ANC has proposed that the National Assembly Speaker be given powers to decide on scheduling motions of no confidence in consultation with the leader of government business, the chief whip of the majority party, and the chief whips’ forum.
The move was in recognition of the Speaker’s constitutional role as the upholder of the Constitution in the House, and a protector of democracy and the rights of minority parties, ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga said on Tuesday.
“This also addresses the argument the opposition parties advanced in court that the Speaker should have the right to make such decisions,” he said.
The African National Congress submission also provided for the debate on the motion of no confidence to either end in a no confidence vote or a confidence vote.
“Our proposal excludes the opposition’s call for a secret ballot during the no confidence vote.”
The secret ballot during no confidence motions had no constitutional basis, defeated the principle of transparency, and had the potential to give rise to “chequebook politics”.
To avoid a situation whereby Parliament was flooded with endless motions, the proposed amendments provided for the regularity of motions of no confidence for each year, Motshekga said.
The ANC's submission followed a directive of the Constitutional Court last year. It instructed Parliament to file a report with the Registrar of the court by March 14 on progress made to ensure motions of no confidence were appropriately provided for in the House rules.
Motshekga said the submission was a culmination of many meetings of the rules committee and informal inter-party engagements.
“The discussions among political parties have been characterised by persuasion and counter-persuasion, with a hope to accommodate each other’s positions when these amendments are finally adopted,” he said.
“Our submission is premised on a strong belief that there is a right to have a motion of no confidence debated. However, this must be subjected to certain limitations, such as accommodation within the programme of the House or their regularity.”
Motshekga was confident the amendments would not only pass constitutional muster, but also strengthen the institution’s programming system. - Sapa