The Speaker of the South African Parliament Baleka Mbete has announced that the vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma will be done through secret ballot on Tuesday.
This comes after opposition parties, including the Democratic Alliance, Economic Freedom Fighters and United Democratic Movement, made numerous unsuccessful calls for the speaker to announce her decision in advance to allow them enough time to deliberate on a way forward.
The DA had demanded that she make her decision on the secret ballot by 09:00 last Saturday but Mbete only announced on Sunday evening that she would make her decision public on Monday afternoon, just a day before the sitting.
Announcing her decision in Cape Town on Monday, the Speaker said the decision was based on a number of factors, including the transparency of the process and security of the parliamentarians.
“This decision is therefore in the best interest of the country. The Speaker is required to guard the procedure of this house and to ensure that the outcome of this very important vote is credible.
“The Speaker must do this without fear or favour. It is with that in mind that this decision is also about putting the resilience of our democratic institution to test.
“Having considered all the factors, and mindful of the fact that this decision is not setting a precedent, I determine that voting on the motion of no confidence in the President on 8 August 2017 will be by secret ballot,” Mbete said.
Constitutional Court Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng ruled in June that the Speaker had the Constitutional power to determine whether or not motions of no confidence should be conducted by secret ballot.
The court’s decision stemmed from opposition party United Democratic Movement’s application, asking the court to give Parliament the go ahead to allow Members of Parliament to vote in secret in a proposed motion of no confidence in President Zuma.
Tens of thousands of South Africans took to the streets of Cape Town on Monday in anti and pro-Zuma marches to parliament ahead of the no-confidence debate, and the vote on Tuesday.
Opposition parties have welcomed the Speaker’s decision, with Julius Malema of the Economic Freedom Fighters calling on ANC MPs to turn their backs on the governing party and vote against President Zuma on Tuesday in the interest of the country.