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If a president were to be fired for policy-related issues, any president wouldn’t last longer than six months, says Moshoeshoe Monare.
Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court judgment regarding the motion of no confidence in the president has at least clarified the procedural confusion posed by the parliamentary rules.
Judge Chris Jafta in his minority judgment did not find anything wrong with the rules.
But Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke found, in the majority judgment, that some aspects of the rules were unconstitutional.
He gave the National Assembly until January to fix them.
The most essential element of this judgment is the Concourt’s affirmation of the Cape Town High Court’s attitude that such a motion “cannot be left to the whim of the majority or minority in the programme committee, or any other committee of the Assembly”.
“It would be inimical to the vital purpose of section 102(2) (of the constitution) to accept that a motion of no confidence in the president may never reach the Assembly except with the generosity and concurrence of the majority in that committee.
“It is equally unacceptable that a minority within the committee may render the motion stillborn when consensus is the decision-making norm,” said Moseneke.
His and Jafta’s concerns will ultimately prevent any party’s abuse of its majority or its ability to create a deadlock to deny South Africa an opportunity to fire their president and his executive.
However, the high court and the Concourt did not tackle the substance of the grounds for such a motion, a contentious issue that is likely to land in these courts sooner or later.
I don’t blame the courts, because the application by the DA’s Lindiwe Mazibuko and the response by the ANC’s Mathole Motshekga were mainly confined to procedural elements of the matter, and did not deal with the substantive basis of the grounds for the motion.
I still caution the opposition against encroaching on the voters’ turf by raising a motion solely on policy grounds.
Only voters can punish a president or its party for a poorly executed manifesto.
In her draft resolution, Mazibuko charged that under Jacob Zuma’s leadership “the justice system has been politicised and weakened; corruption has spiralled out of control; unemployment continues to increase; the economy is weakening; the right of access to quality education has been violated”.
I fully agree with Mazibuko that the National Assembly – which elected Zuma – must force him to account for his actions.
But if the president were to be fired for the performance of the economy and other policy-related issues, the term of any president wouldn’t last for longer than six months.
I have already warned that such arrogance on the part of the opposition will haunt the DA once they are in power, as other parties – including the ANC – will make it difficult to run this country.
The constitution is silent on the grounds for passing such a motion, which creates a lacuna, as well as a dilemma for an opposition frustrated with the incompetence of the president and a ruling party frustrated with the opposition.
The National Assembly, and not the courts, must clarify how to test the people’s will in the face of an incompetent president and a complacent ruling party.
* Moshoeshoe Monare is editor of the Sunday Independent.