This was the assertion by ANC stalwart Sydney Mufumadi on Thursday, following the Constitutional Court’s ruling that National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has the power to allow a secret ballot.
“MPs should think of the vote as an opportunity to correct a wrong they did. The vote will be an opportunity to test where their loyalty lies, with the people of South Africa, or not. If they fail to hold the president to account then that has negative implications,” Mufumadi said on Thursday.
He said there was no basis to deny a secret ballot.
“She (Mbete) said she was not opposed to it, and now she has been enlightened. She cannot change her mind now and say she is against it because she never gave reason before why the vote should not be held in secret.”
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said Mbete should use her discretion. He said there was no need for the party to hold a meeting on the matter.
“The Speaker is the Speaker of Parliament. The Constitutional Court says she has powers to exercise her discretion. When you are a ruling party you don’t run the portfolio of a person in finer details. You allow the person to exercise her mind,” he said.
Mbete had argued that she was not empowered to institute a secret ballot when voting on a motion of no confidence. But the court on Thursday threw the ball in her court.
Delivering his verdict Thursday, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said: “The Speaker says that neither the constitution nor the rules of the National Assembly allow her to authorise a vote by secret ballot.
“To this extent, she was mistaken. Our interpretation of the relevant provisions of the constitution, and the rules, make it clear that the Speaker does have the power to authorise a vote by a secret ballot in a motion of no confidence in the president.”
A few hours after the judgment Zuma told MPs that he did not support the secret ballot, and that the motion would be defeated for the eighth time.
He was unperturbed in Parliament during a question-and-answer session on Thursday, saying opposition parties had provided no convincing reasons for the secret ballot.
“How did we vote in the seven (motions of no confidence in the past). Why this time do we do it differently?” he asked.
“My view is that we have to do what we have done in the past.” Zuma said he was fit and proper to lead the country, and would not go because the ANC had not recalled him.
“I think the people of South Africa did not make a mistake by electing me. I am fit and I’m doing it very well.”
Zuma also had to field tough questions about his son, Duduzane, who is seen as the proxy in his controversial relationship with the Guptas, who are at the centre of the state capture allegations.
Duduzane’s name has featured prominently in the leaked Gupta e-mails, detailing the extent of the family’s influence in the running of government affairs.
A visibly irritated Zuma told opposition MPs they were being “unfair”in accusing his son of benefiting from his presidency.
“I have not heard that his business has ever benefited from the government, where Zuma has benefited to say give him something.
“Never I’ve never done that he’s involved in business in his own accord“ said Zuma, responding to the DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
“You can’t single out one young person and victimise the person just because he’s the son of the president. It’s not fair, it’s not correct.”