ANC national chairperson and Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete (left) and Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA

Johannesburg – The frequent court challenges against government or Parliament were an unnecessary expenditure on energy and resources,” African National Congress (ANC) national chairperson and Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete said on Tuesday.

“We are now getting used to it. It is unfortunate in my view, because when the Constitution has given us certain duties, it has actually said we have a right to decide our internal arrangements and we, again and again take things out, [things] which belong to our internal arrangements, we take them to court, it is so unnecessary,” Mbete told journalists at the ANC’s 5th national policy conference in Johannesburg.

“It is unnecessary energy and resources that is being used in that exercise. However, people have a democratic right to do it and they do it nonetheless. We hope they will see sense one of these days.”

Last month, the Constitutional Court of South Africa ruled that the question of whether an impending motion of no confidence vote in President Jacob Zuma should be held via secret ballot was fully in Mbete’s hands as Speaker.

“The United Democratic Movement’s (UDM’s) request for a motion of no confidence in the president is remitted to the Speaker for her to make a fresh decision,” Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng ruled at the time.

The application to the Constitutional Court came from the UDM, prompted by Zuma’s controversial removal of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas. The secret ballot case is one of the many attempts by opposition parties and civic organisations to have Zuma removed from office.

African National Congress (ANC) national chairperson and Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete at the ANC’s 5th national policy conference in Johannesburg. VIDEO: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA

Mbete had argued that she was under no obligation to set a secret vote and that such decision was up to the National Assembly members – an argument rejected by the Constitutional Court judges.

Opposition parties such as the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), African People’s Convention (APC), Congress of the People (Cope), Democratic Alliance (DA), the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) supported the application.

Mogoeng ordered that Mbete and Zuma pay the legal costs of the UDM, EFF, DA, IFP and Cope.

Commenting on a large gallery of bronze, full-size statues of local and international struggle icons displayed at the NPC venue, the Nasrec Expo Centre, Mbete said the heroes were a fitting reminder of the long journey travelled in the struggle for emancipation of South African people.

“This national policy conference became an opportune moment to bring out how far we are with some of this statues. There are many more, and there will be many more coming up. Hopefully, one day there will be an appropriate location where these statues will depict the journey of the struggle of the people of South Africa. Hopefully, when we are a nation, when we have become a nation – which we are still striving at – we will come out from time to time to look at those statues and remember where we have come from,” said Mbete.

Asked whether the struggle icons displayed, including Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Samora Machel and Chris Hani, would be disappointed with the current day ANC, Mbete responded: “Not so much, because over the ages the ANC has faced and dealt with various challenges of those times, so the ANC right now is facing certain specific challenges that depict the reality of today.

“The ANC now, 105 years later, is faced with a different reality. We went to exile, led by Oliver Tambo for almost 30 years, we are now back and have been in office for about 20-odd years, and we are in a different space. We have learnt more things about governance. There will still be more challenges going forward and we are up to it,” said Mbete.

African News Agency