Parliament, Cape Town - Opposition parties have “every intention” to table a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma in the National Assembly, the DA said on Thursday.
They would do so as soon as the Constitutional Court had heard the case, Democratic Alliance Chief Whip Watty Watson said in a statement.
He was reacting to ANC claims that the opposition parties had “done a U-turn” on the matter.
“The DA, together with other opposition parties, has every intention of re-tabling a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma as soon as the Constitutional Court has heard the matter,” Watson said.
“This is our prerogative as MPs, and we will not be dictated to and bullied by President Zuma's henchman in Parliament, 1/8ANC Chief Whip 3/8 Mathole Motshekga.”
Earlier, his ANC counterpart told journalists at Parliament the DA and other opposition parties no longer wanted the matter debated.
“ (We) note that at the meeting of the National Assembly's programming committee this morning (Tuesday), the Democratic Alliance and other opposition parties have done a U-turn on having their motion of no confidence in the president debated in Parliament,” Motshekga said.
He said the opposition had “tried to treat the matter as not significant, because it had lapsed”.
In his statement, Watson said the motion of no-confidence in Zuma had lapsed at the end of last year's parliamentary session.
“This was one of the compelling reasons, we argued, that the motion had to be debated before the end of the year.
“The ANC ignored this fact and now wish to set in stone a dangerous and unconstitutional precedent whereby they can tell individual MPs whether and when we can table motions of no confidence in the president.”
He said the Constitutional Court had instructed the Speaker of the National Assembly to table a report by March 14, on the progress made in including motions of no confidence in the National Assembly's rules.
The matter is set to come before the Concourt on March 28.
Watson said it would turn on “whether the Constitution envisages that any MP who tables a motion of no confidence in the president of the republic must first seek the permission of the majority party, before s/he may have such a motion scheduled and debated”.
“Until such time as the National Assembly rules provide for motions of no confidence brought by any MP to be debated as a matter of urgency and not at the discretion of the majority party, our rights will be effectively limited by majoritarianism,” he said.
Motshekga earlier said the ANC maintained its view that the motion was “frivolous 1/8and 3/8 not based on any fact or evidence”.
The ruling party was aware the motion had lapsed last year, but “we committed to strongly support that this motion be re-tabled before the House in its original form for debate”.
He said it was now clear “that this particular motion served no other purpose other than to tarnish the image of President Zuma with a view to influencing the outcome of the ANC's elective conference last year”.
Late last year, the Constitutional Court agreed to hear an application about debate in Parliament on the motion.
This followed the Western Cape High Court's dismissal in November of an urgent application Ä brought by DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko on behalf of eight opposition parties Ä to force such a debate before Parliament went into recess.
Judge Dennis Davis found at the time that while there were gaps in National Assembly rules, it was not for the court to dictate to Parliament.
The eight parties are the African Christian Democratic Party, the Azanian People’s Organisation, the Congress of the People, the Democratic Alliance, the Freedom Front Plus, the Inkatha Freedom Party, the United Christian Democratic Party, and the United Democratic Front.
The ANC, which was initially opposed to the debate taking place, then changed its position and proposed it take place in February, after Parliament re-opened. - Sapa