The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has welcomed the Constitutional Court (Concourt) judgement declaring that the Speaker of the National Assembly has the constitutional powers to prescribe that voting in a motion of no confidence in the President of the Republic of South Africa be conducted by secret ballot.
The Concourt ruling follows an application by the United Democratic Movement (UDM) in April for an order forcing National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to allow a vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma by secret ballot to protect ANC Members of Parliament against victimisation by their party if they voted for the motion.
In turn the UDM application was triggered by Mbete’s argument that she did not have the constitutional powers to allow voting by secret ballot in a motion of no confidence against the President of the Republic.
The Speaker’s decision of 6 April 2017 that she does not have the power to prescribe that voting in the motion of no confidence in the President be conducted by secret ballot as requested by the UDM has been set aside as a result of the declaration.
However the Concourt has referred the UDM’s request for a motion of no confidence in President Zuma back to the Speaker of the National Assembly in strict observance of the doctrine of separation of powers between the three arms of state, being the judiciary, the legislature and the executive or Cabinet.
“As an emerging democracy, it is important for the Constitutional Court to guide the country and the Federation wishes to thank Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and the other justices for their inspirational leadership. The Constitutional Court ruling also strengthens our democracy and provides certainty concerning the rule of law. The principle of the rule of law underscores that all people and institutions like parliament and the cabinet are subject and accountable to the rule of law that is fairly applied and enforced,” said FEDUSA General Secretary Dennis George.
“The rule of law is also associated with the achievement of higher inclusive economic growth; through the security of property and enforcement of contracts; through checks on government; and through checks on corruption and state capture.
FEDUSA National Congress in November 2016 underlined that these dimensions of the rule of law is important and rest on the even more fundamental solution to the question of political order and good governance. This ruling is therefore important within the context of our campaign against state capture, maladministration and corruption that the National Congress adopted”.
FEDUSA is the largest politically non-aligned trade union federation in South Africa and represents a diverse membership from a variety of sectors in industry. See www.fedusa.org.za for more information.
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