Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete Picture: Ian Landsberg/ANA

Johannesburg- The DA has accused National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete of putting party interests ahead of Parliament ahead of the vote of no confidence debate in President Jacob Zuma. 

Mbete, speaking at the ongoing 2017 ANC National Policy Conference, on Tuesday urged individual MPs to toe the party line when voting.

“In as far as the question of secret or not secret [ballot], I think individuals can think whichever way they want to, but whereas a member who was sent to Parliament by a political party, you owe it to that party to take a position as guided by it,” Mbete told eNCA earlier on.

Responding to this was DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen, who slammed Mbete for placing ANC interests before Parliament.

“It is alarming that Mbete feels free to speak so candidly about the “obligations” of ANC MPs precisely when she is called upon to apply her mind and decide on the matter of the secret ballot.

“The Constitutional Court was unequivocal in its June 22 ruling. Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, in considering if the Constitution provides for a secret ballot, noted that ‘members of the ruling party are also at liberty to vote in a way that does not always have to be predetermined by their parties’,” he said in a statement.

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Steenhuisen added that members were urged by the chief justice to essentially act in a way that “advances our constitutional project of improving the lives of all citizens”.

He therefore urged Mbete to not lose sight of her responsibility as speaker and the fact that she is both empowered to decide on the matter of the secret ballot and will, in all likelihood, preside over the motion of no confidence.