13 June 2017

South Africa: Push for Secret Ballot a Cynical Political Ploy


What we are witnessing is not unprecedented. Elsewhere, political parties who find themselves on the back-foot have been known to press for secret ballots simply to rid themselves of political opponents. In pushing for this motion, the political opposition may be unwittingly (one hopes unwittingly) advocating for parliamentarians to be able to conduct their business away from the prying eyes of the public that elected them.

It is not without significance that neither the Constitution nor the rules of the National Assembly provide for a vote of no confidence against a sitting Head of State to be conducted by means of a secret ballot.

Although Section 19 of the Constitution states that citizens have the right to vote by secret ballot, and Section 86 provides for a secret ballot for the appointment of the President (with the procedures therefore elaborately spelled out) it is clear that the lawmakers intended not to be prescriptive with regards to passing a motion of no confidence in the same President.

Considering that any member of the National Assembly has the right to request for such a motion of no confidence to be debated and voted for, it is clear that this was no oversight....

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