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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

South African opposition party allowed access
to argue application for secret ballot

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The Constitutional Court (ConCourt) on Tuesday  granted the United Democratic Movement (UDM) access to argue its application for a secret ballot when a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma is conducted.

Under a court ruling, other involving parties can file opposing papers until April 21.

Following the court order, several opposition parties have called for the postponement of a debate on the no-confidence motion, originally set for April 18.

The UDM said a new date should be set for April 25 so as to allow the respondents time to file their papers.

A letter to this effect has been sent to Parliament Speaker Baleka Mbete, the UDM said.

Mbete has not responded to the request yet.

The UDM approached the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) last week, asking for an order to have voting on the motion of no confidence conducted through a secret ballot.

Earlier on Tuesday, Parliament rejected allegations that it intends to oppose the UDM’s application for a secret ballot.

Parliament Speaker Mbete holds no position on the matter with regard to whether motions of this nature ought to be conducted by way of a secret vote, Parliament said in a statement.

But Parliament also stated that the Constitution, which outlines the procedure for motions of no confidence, makes no provision for voting to be conducted through a secret ballot.

Similarly, the rules of the National Assembly do not provide for secret voting, Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) submitted the motion in the hope of toppling Zuma.

Zuma has been criticized for reshuffling the cabinet on March 31, sacking or replacing 20 ministers and deputy ministers, notably Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, a move that has prompted international rating agencies Standard & Poor’s and Fitch to downgrade SA’s credit rating to junk status.

The DA has also written to Mbete to request a postponement of the no-confidence motion until such a time as the ConCourt decides on whether the vote will be done by secret ballot.

Opposition parties believe that a secret ballot would allow MPs of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to vote in favour of the motion.

The ANC has rejected calls by opposition parties for a secret ballot.

The ANC says its MPs must vote according to the party line.

Some ANC MPs reportedly voiced fear that they would be disciplined or removed if they vote in support of the motion.

For a vote of no confidence motion to be successful, it requires 201 of the 400 National Assembly MPs to vote in favour. 

If the motion is successful, then the president, his deputy, cabinet ministers and all their deputies must resign as provided for in section 102 of the Constitution.

In 2016, Zuma survived two no confidence motions in Parliament which is dominated by ANC MPs.
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UPDATE:

March against South African president continues Wednesday

by Stanley Karombo PRETORIA (Xinhua) -- Thousands from South Africa’s opposition parties converged in Pretoria on Wednesday to protest against President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma invited much controversy after he sacked Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan amid a sudden cabinet reshuffle, leading to international rating agencies downgrading the country’s status to junk and a free fall of the South African rand.

The axing also came amid economic slowdown and high unemployment, which the public wants be addressed.

Among the demonstrators were members of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and of the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA).

Heavily armed police were seen at the protest site.

Addressing his supporters, leader of the EFF Julius Malema said they came out in large numbers to "sent a strong message."

Meanwhile, the president is expected to have another battle of no-confidence vote next Tuesday.

The president has survived two rounds of no-confidence votes by virtue of the ruling party African National Congress (ANC) being the majority in the parliament.

Zuma is expected to step down in December as leader of ANC and many in his party are already canvassing for support to take over from him. Among them are his former wife and ex- African Union Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
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EARLIER REPORT:

South Africa Parliament denies opposing legal application for secret ballot

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s Parliament on Tuesday rejected allegations that it intends to oppose an legal application for a secret ballot when a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma is conducted.

Parliament Speaker Baleka Mbete holds no position on the matter with regard to whether motions of this nature ought to be conducted by way of a secret vote, Parliament said in a statement.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) has approached the Constitutional Court (ConCourt), asking for an order to have voting on the motion of no confidence conducted through a secret ballot.

A parliamentary debate has been scheduled for April 18 on the motion of no confidence in Zuma. The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) submitted the motion in the hope of toppling Zuma.

Zuma has been criticized for reshuffling the cabinet on March 31, sacking or replacing 20 ministers and deputy ministers, notably Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, a move that has prompted international rating agencies Standard & Poor’s and Fitch to downgrade South Africa’s credit rating to junk status.

“An incorrect impression has been created in the media that Parliament intends ‘opposing’ the Constitutional Court application by the United Democratic Movement to have voting on the motion of no confidence conducted through a secret ballot,” the Parliament statement said.

This is not entirely true, and does not reflect the position of Parliament, the statement said.

But the statement noted that the Constitution, which outlines the procedure for motions of no confidence, makes no provision for voting to be conducted through a secret ballot.

Similarly, the rules of the National Assembly do not provide for secret voting, the statement added.

In 2015 the Western Cape High Court dismissed an application which sought to force the National Assembly to vote on a similar motion of no confidence in Zuma by secret ballot.

The court ruled that there was no implied or expressed constitutional requirement for voting by secret ballot in motions of no confidence in the president.

Speaker Mbete has sworn to uphold the Constitution and thus all her decisions must have basis in law and the Rules of the House, the statement said.

Therefore, acceding to the request of the UDM would have been unconstitutional, as she does not enjoy such powers in the Constitution, according to the statement.

This is the position the Speaker will advance when the matter is scheduled in the Constitutional Court, the statement said.

“This, however, does not suggest opposition to the principle of a secret ballot on motions of this nature,” said the statement.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has rejected calls by opposition parties for a secret ballot in the motion of no confidence.

The ANC says its MPs must vote according to the party line.

Some ANC MPs reportedly voiced fear that they would be disciplined or removed if they vote in support of the motion.

For a vote of no confidence motion to be successful, it requires 201 of the 400 National Assembly MPs to vote in favor. 

If the motion is successful, then the president, his deputy, cabinet ministers and all their deputies must resign as provided for in section 102 of the Constitution.

In 2016, Zuma survived two no confidence motions in Parliament which is dominated by ANC MPs.

             

 

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