Opposition parties have been calling on ANC members to use their conscience, and to vote against President Jacob Zuma in the National Assembly when the motion of a no-confidence debate is raised. Picture: Reuters/Rogan Ward

Johannesburg – Opposition parties have been calling on ANC members to use their conscience, and to vote against President Jacob Zuma in the National Assembly when the motion of a no-confidence debate is raised.

But it seems the parties’ own constitutions don’t allow their members to vote against their own party line, as they have been pressing ANC MPs to do.

Four ­opposition parties – the EFF, the United Democratic Movement, the IFP and the DA – have been leading the charge on ANC members not to toe the party line, and instead listen to their consciences and vote against Zuma.

The EFF constitution states that “the President and Commander in Chief of the Economic Freedom Fighters (Julius Malema) shall make pronouncements for and on behalf of the EFF outlining and explaining the policy or attitude of the EFF on any question.”

Party spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, did not respond to enquiries regarding the party’s stance.

The UDM constitution, like the EFF’s, does not say whether members would be disciplined. It states: “Elected public representatives shall organise themselves in caucuses and each caucus shall draw up its own caucus rules that shall be subject to this constitution.”

IFP chief whip Narend Singh said the party’s constitution was not prescriptive on party-line voting.

“It is common knowledge that given how we vote, members are naturally required to vote the party line."

“But if our members came to us and said they want a free vote, then we would grant them one."

“We have done that when MPs wanted to vote on abortion in Parliament,” Singh said.

On Tuesday the IFP and the EFF submitted affidavits in the Constitutional Court supporting the UDM’s bid for a secret vote.

Singh said: “The IFP has in the past embarked on the motion of no-confidence vote but we were told that rules can only be amended under the constitution.

“This is precisely why we are approaching Concourt.”

Political Bureau