‘Mzansi can only have one DP’

IFP President Velenkosini Hlabisa. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo

IFP President Velenkosini Hlabisa. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo

Published Jun 11, 2024


The IFP has poured cold water on reports that the party’s president Velenkosini Hlabisa is being tipped as the second deputy president.

Party spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said those pushing that narrative were putting the carriage before the horse.

Hlengwa said this was just an attempt by “these peddler’s” to try to manipulate the party to legitimise their political views.

“There is no such a second deputy president, that is the constitutionally prescribed position, such a position would need for the Constitution to be amended to allow for such appointments.

As a party we have never spoken or attempted to approach the negotiations with that mentality, because we first need to understand how the Government of National Unity (GNU) would be set up and what it would entail,” the party’s spokesman said.

Hlengwa said at this point the IFP was in talks with all political parties that would want to serve and bring stability to the country’s economy and future.

He re-assured the party’s electorate that the IFP would attend Friday’s first sitting of the National Assembly as they were elected to do so by the majority of the party’s members and electorate.

The IFP spokesperson’s sentiment on the “second deputy president” was seconded by constitutional expert Pierre de Vos who said there cannot be two deputy presidents as Section 91(1) of the Constitution only allowed for the appointment of one deputy president.

As for former apartheid president FW de Klerk being made second deputy president, De Vos said De Klerk was made second deputy president because at the time the country had an interim Constitution, adding that those provisions ended in 1999.

The constitutional law expert emphasised that the “new” Constitution did not provide for the country to have a second deputy president.

On the question of whether the uMkhonto weSizwe Party has a solid chance of winning the interdict, De Vos said the party’s application was not going to succeed.

This was not only because it was asking the court to override the Constitution - which required the first sitting to be held within 14 days after declaration of the election results - but also because Section 46 of the Constitution did not say what the MK party thought it said.

“Section (S) 46 reflects a compromise between negotiators who wanted to keep the size of the National Assembly (NA) at 400, and others who wanted to reduce the size to 350, by delegating the determination of the size of the NA to the legislature.

Section (S) 46(2) does this by requiring an Act of Parliament to provide a formula for determining the number of members of the NA, but S 46(1) restricts the discretion of the legislature to a size between 350 and 400. S 114 of the Electoral Act, read with Schedule 3 of the Act, fixes the size at 400.

However, the MK Party has insisted that they had a lot to say after they filed court papers yesterday seeking to interdict the sitting of Parliament on the back of allegations of vote rigging by the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC).

In their papers filed with the Constitutional Court, the MK Party cites the Chief Justice as the first respondent, Secretary of Parliament as second, the IEC as third, President Cyril Ramaphosa as fourth, political parties with designated representatives as fifth to 21st, and parties without designated representatives in the NA as 22nd representatives.

“Directing that this application be heard as a matter of urgency in terms of rule 12 and condoning any related non-compliance with the timelines set out in the rules... That this matter be heard based on exclusive jurisdiction... where applicable, interdicting the first sitting and the second respondents from convening and/or conducting the first sitting of the National Assembly as envisaged in sections 51, 52 and 86 of the constitutions,” the court papers read.

Furthermore, the MK Party through its lawyers, Zungu Incorporated Attorneys, argues that the National Assembly’s first sitting would not be properly constituted given that 58 of their Members of Parliament (MP) candidates would not be part of the proceedings.

The party also wants the Constitutional Court to order a rerun of the May 29 general elections.

However, constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said the decision by more than 50 Members of Parliament not to be sworn in did not amend the provisions of the Electoral Act that fixes the size of the National Assembly at 400.

“Whether they are sworn in or not, the size of the NA as determined by the legislature remains 400.

Section (S) 53 of the Constitution requires one third of the MPs (134) to be present to make ordinary decisions and one half (200) to be present to pass legislation.

“As long as 134 MPs are sworn in and present when the President is elected the election will be valid,” De Vos said.

Section (S) 46 reflected a compromise between negotiators who wanted to keep the size of the National Assembly at 400, and others who wanted to reduce the size to 350 by delegating the determination of the size of the assembly to the legislature, he explained.

“If the legislature amends these sections to reduce the size to less than 350 or more than 400, this amendment will be invalid for breaching Section 46(1).

On Monday Parliament said it had taken note of the letter from the MK Party informing the institution of its intention to challenge the validity of the election results as declared by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

Secretary of Parliament Xolile George said the party had misinterpreted the rules as there needed to be a court interdict setting aside the first sitting before Parliament could cancel the sitting.

The Star

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