Friday's Constitutional Court decision to hear an application concerning a no-confidence debate about President Jacob Zuma was celebrated by the DA and ANC for very different reasons.
African National Congress Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga said the party felt “vindicated” that the court dismissed an application to force Parliament to hold the debate before December 7.
“The directions issued by the nine Concourt judges indicate today that the application by the opposition parties to have the matter heard 'as a matter of urgency' is refused,” Motshekga said in a statement.
Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said she was disappointed the application would only be heard next year.
However the court's decision to hear the matter was “a great victory for our continued efforts to uphold the constitutional principle that a majority party cannot block a debate on a motion of no confidence.”
The application would be heard on March 28.
Mazibuko, supported by seven other opposition parties, tabled the motion on November 8. However Sisulu later adjourned a programming committee meeting without the debate being scheduled, on the basis that no consensus had been reached.
The National Assembly has subsequently held its last scheduled sitting for 2012.
On Friday, Mazibuko said the court had ordered National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu to file a report on March 14, on progress achieved in ensuring that motions of no confidence were appropriately provided for in the National Assembly's rules.
Motshekga said the court's decision reinforced the ANC's “long-standing view that this motion is publicity gimmick, frivolous and without basis.”
“The Concourt agrees with our view that this motion is not urgent... No sky will fall if this motion is debated when Parliament reopens next year, as proposed by ANC.”
Motshekga said the motion was “deliberately timed to tarnish the image of the president ahead of the Mangaung conference.”
Opposition parties had to stop politicising courts by involving them in their political battles, he said.
“Instead, they must come back to the table and assist in the review of rules to ensure that any gaps in the National Assembly rules is 1/8sic 3/8 fixed.”
Mazibuko said the court would be able to consider whether the Assembly's rules “in failing, effectively, to provide for a deadlock-breaking mechanism”, were unconstitutional.
Earlier this month Judge Dennis Davis ruled in the Cape High Court that it was any MP's right to request a no confidence debate, and that such requests were “by their very nature” urgent.
But, because the National Assembly rules did not make provision for no confidence debates, Davis could not tell Sisulu when and where the debate should be heard.
On Friday, Motshekga had harsh words for a “certain section” of the media.
“It is a sad indictment of the state of our media that when the DA scores court victories against the ANC government such is celebrated through screaming front-page headlines and hailed as victory for the rule of law and the Constitution.
“However, when the ANC is proven correct by the courts of law facts are distorted and then used to crucify it.” - Sapa