Just hours before President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to face a vote of no confidence in parliament on Thursday, the saga will play out in the Cape Town high court.
The African Transformation Movement (ATM), which brought the application before parliament, was on Wednesday granted the right to argue in court that a secret ballot should be allowed for the no-confidence vote.
Speaker Thandi Modise had denied a request from the ATM for the voice to be secret.
ATM president Vuyo Zungula, in an affidavit given to the high court on Wednesday, argued that the vote should be secret because of the importance of the matter.
Arguing that Ramaphosa had “failed in his constitutional mandate”, Zungula said that the best way for MPs to hold him to account and to be “faithful to the republic and the constitution” was to vote in secret.
“The MPs’ faithfulness to the republic can best be, in my opinion, achieved when testing their personal conscience rather than when the MP acts on the mandate of his or her political party. The applicant believes that the only way to achieve that is by vote by secret ballot which the applicant has sought from the speaker.
“The speaker, in her decline of the applicant’s request has relied on openness, transparency and the ability of the MPs to demonstrate to the electorate that they are upholding constitutional values above party loyalty and the need for the National Assembly to conduct its business in an open manner.
“I submit that the political situation is toxified to such an extent that it will not be possible for the MPs to cast their vote according to their individual consciousness but rather will be influenced by the party mandate and open voting will expose members to illegitimate hardships,” Zungula writes.
He also argues that there are MPs who are “beneficiaries of the so-called CR17 campaign funds”, which would impair their ability to vote “according to their conscience if open ballot is exercised as that would endanger them”.
“The applicant further highlighted the ruling party’s factional battles after some of them had been charged of corruption in respect of the PPE tender, some charged with corruption- related offences emanating out of the evidence from the Zondo commission, the burning of the T-shirt bearing the face of the president, these are some but not limited bases upon which I believe the Open ballot will prejudice the individual conscience of the MPs,” Zungula writes.
The matter is set to be heard at 10am on Thursday.