Speaker rejects request by UDM, ATM for a secret ballot

Suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane faces a motion to remove her from office. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane faces a motion to remove her from office. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 7, 2023


Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has turned down a request by the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and African Transformation Movement (ATM) for a secret ballot in the removal of suspended public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, saying the environment was not toxic as alleged by the two parties.

She said she carefully studied the request by both parties and found that an open ballot should be held.

There were no sound reasons presented by the UDM and ATM.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa and ATM leader Vuyo Zungula wrote to Mapisa-Nqakula a few days ago, calling for a secret ballot in the removal of Mkhwebane.

The National Assembly will hold a sitting on Monday, where the vote will take place.

Parliament would require a two-thirds majority to remove Mkhwebane after she was found guilty by the Section 194 committee of misconduct.

Zungula threatened to take the matter to court if Mapisa-Nqakula refused to allow for a secret ballot.

But Mapisa-Nqakula said there was no need for a secret ballot and that voting will continue as planned on Monday.

She also said that the fact that parties will ask their members to toe the party line is part of the practice in Parliament.

"Furthermore, the Speaker has considered the prevailing atmosphere in the Assembly and South Africa, finding that it is not toxic or highly charged to warrant a secret ballot. The robustness of the proceedings and the manner in which opposing views have been openly canvassed both by members and the public is seen as indicative of a healthy democracy.

"The Speaker believes that a closed voting procedure would deprive citizens, who have a significant public interest in the matter, from identifying their representatives' positions and holding them accountable. She also emphasises that Chapter 9 office bearers are held accountable through various oversight processes of the Assembly, conducted openly and transparently, and the Section 194 proceedings themselves have always been conducted in a transparent manner.

"The Speaker has found no reason to believe that any member will be bribed or exposed to corrupt activities in relation to the vote or that there were any safety concerns which may necessitate a secret ballot," said Parliament.

The announcement comes after the ethics committee cleared ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina and chairperson of the Section 194 inquiry, Qubudile Dyantyi, of bribery allegations.

This was after Mkhwebane alleged that the African National Congress (ANC) politicians and late MP Tina Joemat-Pettersson had allegedly tried to solicit a bribe, through her husband David Skosana, to make the inquiry go away.

But both Majodina and Dyantyi have always denied the allegations against them.

Dyantyi even rejected an application by Mkhwebane for him to recuse himself from the inquiry because of the allegations.

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