Secret ballot ‘is law’: UDM argues no confidence vote can’t be open

South Africa’s Constitutional Court. File photo Image by: GCIS
The United Democratic Movement yesterday told the Constitutional Court why it was compulsory that a vote of no confidence in the president be by secret ballot.

The UDM wants the court to declare that section 102 of the constitution requires that motions of no confidence must be decided by secret ballot.

The section states that, if the National Assembly, by “a vote” supported by a majority of its members, passes a motion of no confidence in the president, the president and other executive members must resign.

The judges of the court expressed concern about the judiciary being seen as intruding into the domain of the legislative arm of the government by telling the speaker of parliament how to conduct the affairs of the House.

However, political parties that support a secret ballot stated that the National Assembly’s oversight of the executive should be served by a secret ballot.

UDM advocate Dali Mpofu said the only question that arose in this case was the meaning of the words “a vote” in section 102 of the constitution: Did it imply that a secret ballot was required, permit a secret ballot or prohibit a secret ballot?

Mpofu said the UDM would convince the court that a secret ballot was compulsory.

“This case is not about separation of powers, or encroachment of the court in anything. If our interpretation of section 102 is correct, this was always like that since 1996 when the constitution was enacted.”

ERNEST MABUZA

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