Opposition parties that are fighting to have a vote of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma done through secret ballot have emerged confident following 10 hours of proceedings in the Constitutional Court yesterday. The application, which was brought forward by the United Democratic Movement, wants to protect the identities of those in the ANC from possible repercussions should they vote with opposition parties. The motion which was initially set for the April 18 has since been postponed pending the ConCourt application.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng reserved judgment, however some of the respondents in the matter, including the Economic Freedom Fighters, Inkatha Freedom Party and Cope, were already excited following a series of concessions from lawyers representing Zuma and the Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete. “We didn’t want anything difficult from the court, just wanted the court to say it is allowed, it is permissible,” said EFF leader Julius Malema. “The Constitution actually encourages that we must guarantee the votes of individuals through a secret ballot,” he said.
h3. Malema: ‘Zuma won’t be president’
Malema was speaking outside the court just before addressing EFF supporters who had been waiting throughout the day’s proceedings to hear from him. Malema and leaders from other opposition parties led a march from Mary Fitzgerald Square to the highest court in the land earlier in the day. The EFF leader, who said he had been engaging with ANC members of Parliament over the motion, said it was difficult work but that some were willing to vote openly against Zuma, while those believed to be close to the president said they too were interested in seeing the end of his tenure.
The EFF commander in chief told journalists that he believed they had the secret ballot in the bag. This was in spite the justices looking unconvinced at the start of proceedings. “A huge argument was put by the chief justice that during nicer times when it was easier to put a president through, secret ballot is allowed and when it’s the difficult time to remove the president and the entire Cabinet we are told no, ‘you can’t use a secret ballot’,” he said.
Malema said if the court found in their favour that would spell the end of Zuma’s tenure as head of state. “If we get a secret ballot [for] Zuma, we will not even go into impeachment, Zuma won’t be president I can tell you that,” he said. The EFF had brought an application compelling Parliament to punish Zuma, either through an impeachment or other disciplinary processes based on the court’s own damming findings against him in the Nkandla matter.
h3. Constitutional Delinquent
The leader also criticised Mbete, who said she had no discretion to decide if the motion could be put to a secret vote, calling her a “constitutional delinquent”. “Her refusal once more exposes her – that she doesn’t have the country’s best interests at heart. She’s irrational, she’s unreasonable and only takes instructions from Jacob Zuma.”
The IFP’s Narend Signh said he had been confident throughout the day. He said the IFP had been asking for a secret ballot for a long time.
Zuma survived several previous motions of no confidence against him.
“…We thought it was illogical that if you vote someone in by secret ballot you couldn’t vote somebody out by that same secret ballot paper,” said Singh. He also said this development was good for South Africa’s democracy. “If we win it will strengthen democracy and it will say to the ruling party ‘do not use the 62% you have in Parliament to ride roughshod over what the majority of the people want’,” said the IFP MP.
National Assembly spokesperson Moloto Mothapo, who sat through proceedings, said they had done their part and now awaited the court’s decision. “As Parliament we have given our views. We have expanded on issues that we put on our affidavit. Now it is up to the courts to decide and we are awaiting any guidance that the court can give in this regard because the court exists to interpret the Constitution and if it is a matter that relates to the Constitution it will say so,” he said.