UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said in replying papers, filed in the Constitutional Court on Wednesday, that Mbete and Zuma have no basis to prevent the use of a secret ballot.
He stated that Zuma was threatening disciplinary action against ANC MPs who defy the party and vote with their conscience.
He said issues raised by the president and the speaker on separation of powers do not arise, and this was an attempt to prevent the Constitutional Court from making a decision on the matter.
“No party in the present litigation, and certainly not the applicant, intends to dispute the first part of the dictum regarding the National Assembly’s control of its own procedures, which is inherently a matter of the separation of powers,” said Holomisa in the papers.
“What is at issue is whether such procedures are ‘consistent with the Constitution and the law’, which is inherently a matter of constitutional interpretation,” he said.
Accordingly, he said the application was not about separation of powers. The attempt by Mbete to show that the application was to embroil the Constitutional Court in controversy was baseless and unfounded.
He said the courts have never been afraid to adjudicate on political matters and Mbete was raising public alarm.
“The speaker and the president seek to contend that the concerns raised by the UDM regarding intimidation in the absence of a secret ballot are too speculative to be taken seriously, but this mechanism is different. As this court has explained, it is a unique and critical mechanism to ensure oversight of the president by the National Assembly. The assembly is therefore performing a different function when it considers a motion of no confidence,” he said.
It was on this basis that they want all the members of the National Assembly to vote with their conscience without fear of victimisation or expulsion from the ANC.
In the letters sent to Mbete by opposition parties, requesting a motion of no confidence, they have outlined detailed reasons for having a debate on the matter.
He said whether the decision of Zuma to axe Pravin Gordhan as finance minister and Mcebisi Jonas as his deputy was lawful was beside the point.
“What is relevant is that the decisions were ill-judged, hasty and have had extraordinarily negative (and foreseeable) economic consequences,” said Holomisa.
The UDM wanted to persuade other MPs that the president no longer enjoyed the support and confidence of the House.
Zuma’s action had led to the downgrade of the country by ratings agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor’s, said the UDM leader in his papers.
All the parties have until Friday to file their written submissions to the Constitutional Court.