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#NoConfidence: D-Day looms for ConCourt submissions

The Zuma Era
Cape Town - All parties have until Friday to file their written submissions to the Constitutional Court on the UDM’s application that the vote should be secret in the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

As the applicant, the UDM’s deadline was 4pm Wednesday, which the party met. Constitutional Court registrar Kgwadi Makgakga said the final deadline for all parties was 4pm Friday.

“Thereafter further directions may be issued,” he said.

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Bantu Holomisa

In its submission the UDM has thrown the book at Speaker Baleka Mbete and the president for refusing to support a secret ballot in a motion of no confidence filed against him.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said in replying papers filed in the Constitutional Court yesterday, that both Mbete and Zuma had no basis in preventing the use of a secret ballot.

He pointed out that Zuma was also threatening disciplinary action against ANC MPs who defied the party and voted with their conscience.

He said the issues raised by both the president and the Speaker on the separation of powers did not arise.

This was an attempt to prevent the Constitutional Court from making a decision on the matter, said Holomisa.

“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,” he said 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, the application was not about the separation of powers - and all the parties were in agreement with that, Holomisa added.

The attempt by Mbete to show that the application was to embroil the Constitutional Court in controversy was baseless and unfounded. The courts had never been afraid to adjudicate on political matters and Mbete was raising public alarm, he said.

“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,” said Holomisa.

“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 wanted all the members of the National Assembly to vote with their conscience without fear of victimisation or expulsion from the ANC.

He said the vote of no confidence was a confirmation that the assembly had lost confidence in Zuma.

In the letters sent to Mbete by the opposition parties, requesting a motion of no confidence, they had outlined detailed reasons for having a debate on the matter.

Holomisa 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.”

The UDM wanted to persuade other MPs that the president no longer enjoyed the support and confidence of the House. He said the secret ballot would enable all MPs to vote with their conscience.

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.

Political Bureau

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