14 November 2012

South Africa: ANC Rejection of Motion of No Confidence Debate Will Cause Constitutional Crisis - Speaker Must Intervene

Photo: SA Presidency
President Jacob Zuma.

press release

Reports that the ANC parliamentary caucus has today decided to block the scheduling of the opposition's motion of no confidence in President Zuma in terms of 102(2) of the Constitution is both unprecedented and unconstitutional.

The DA has already submitted an urgent letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Max Sisulu, who chairs the National Assembly Programming Committee (NAPC) urging him to intervene and schedule this vote. As the head of the legislative arm of the state, Mr Sisulu must take every step available to him to ensure that the Constitution is respected and its provisions given effect to.

A motion of no confidence is provided for in terms of the Constitution, as a mechanism available for members to test the confidence that the house has in a sitting President. Since the President is elected by the National Assembly, it is also given the right to withdraw its support at any time through a majority vote.

To block this vote would be to violate this provision explicitly and set a precedent whereby the ANC can prevent the National Assembly from holding the President accountable, as the Constitution envisages.

It is clear that the ANC is running scared today. The real reason that the party does not want the vote to take place is that its leaders cannot secure the support they need within their own ranks to vote the motion down. They know, as do I and almost every other opposition party represented in Parliament that President Zuma has not done enough during his term of office to continue to maintain the support of South Africans, which we all represent. If they did, they would put the matter to a vote, and let members of parliament decide.

I remain confident that the Speaker's wisdom will prevail, and that he will put the Constitution above the narrow political interests of the ANC Chief Whip, Dr Mathole Motshekga.

Anything short of this will precipitate in a constitutional crisis.

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