Speaker lingers on decision over secret ballot
July 21, 2017
Durban, South Africa – Speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete claims she acted on threats made to beleagured African National Congress (ANC) Member of Parliament (MP) Makhosi Khoza, who has recently been in the limelight for being referred to as an undisciplined member of the ruling party.
Mbete was speaking at a press conference in Durban at the closing of the Speakers’ Forum which is a meeting of all speakers of all provincial and national legislatures.
The Speakers’ Forum pledged to double its efforts of building a formidable, professional and highly competent workforce that is more than capable of helping committees and Members of Parliament to provide cutting-edge oversight, law making and public participation service to South Africans.
“It is not true that I did not act on the security threats levelled against Makhosi Khoza,” said Mbete. Khoza has claimed that she has received death threats. She announced that when the vote of no confidence is heard in Parliament she would vote against the president despite her party affiliation.
“When I received communication from the honourable Khoza, I referred her matter under the normal processes of parliamentary to the parliamentary body which looks into the safety and security of MPs as well as the South African Police Services. A security assessment was conducted, and it was indeed found that there was a security threat against the life of Makhosi. Parliament will now provide protection to Makhosi,” elaborated Mbete.
Talk of the Motion of No Confidence debate overwhelmed the Speakers Forum. The vote will be done on the 8th of August. Last month the Constitutional Court ruled that Mbete has the powers to decide on how the vote should be conducted.
Mbete said was still considering whether or not to accede to requests by opposition parties that voting should take place by way of a secret ballot.
“I have not yet reached a conclusion on that matter. I am still considering all the facts before me, and I will make my decision known to the public in due time,” said Mbete.
Political analyst, Lukhona Mnguni, said it was unlikely that Mbete would favour the calls of the opposition parties.
“It is not in the interest of the ANC to grant a secret ballot. A secret ballot would open the party to political gambling. The gambling would be that they do not know to what extent some of their MPs are aggrieved with President Zuma. The ANC cannot be sure that its members would merely abstain and not vote with the opposition if a secret ballot was granted,” said Mnguni.
Mnguni said it was likely that the motion of no confidence debate would be postponed from the August 8, 2017.
“If Mbete decides on open voting, opposition parties would take her to court. This works for the ANC because it could buy it time to stall the motion up until its December conference,” said Mnguni.
He, however, cautioned that opposition parties had a slim chance of success.
“The ANC is currently very divided and there are people inside it that there are no longer willing to toe the party line. Opposition parties can bank on an internal revolt in the ANC,” Mnguni said.
Meanwhile, opposition parties have called on the Speaker to come to her determination as soon as possible. They say the longer the decision is delayed, the more it prejudices political parties that want to take her decision of legal review.