National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete File picture: Denis Farrell/AP
Johannesburg - The National Assembly Speaker has the power to prescribe voting procedure in a motion of no confidence, the Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday. 

The application was brought to court by the United Democratic Movement (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.

Organisations such as the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, the Unemployed People’s Movement, Institute for Security Studies and the Shosholoza Progressive Movement joined the case as friends of the court.

The UDM said it believed that a secret vote would provide a safe space for individual MPs guided by his or her conscience, and "not by the dictates of their political bosses who issue instructions to Parliament from party headquarters."

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete's legal representative, advocate Marumo Moerane argued that Mbete had no obligation to hold a secret ballot, and that such a decision would be up to members of the National Assembly.

The hearing brought to the fore the issue of separation of powers, and whether the highest court in the land had the prerogative to request Mbete to schedule a secret ballot against Zuma.

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

* This is a developing story.

African News Agency