‘The power you wield belongs to SA’ – Mogoeng targets Mbete’s conscience
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has reminded National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete that the power she wields belongs to South Africans and must not be used “arbitrarily or whimsically”.
Yesterday, Mogoeng delivered the Constitutional Court’s unanimous judgment on the UDM’s bid to force Mbete to conduct a vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma by secret ballot.
The country’s top judge said Mbete’s power to determine the voting procedure in a motion of no confidence belongs to “the people and must thus not be exercised arbitrarily or whimsically”.
“There must always be a proper and rational basis for whatever choice the speaker makes in the exercise of the constitutional power to determine the voting procedure,” Mogoeng said.
He warned that Mbete must ensure that her decision strengthens democracy and does not undermine it.
The Constitutional Court has referred the UDM’s request that the motion be decided through secret ballot back to Mbete to make a fresh decision because for the apex court “to order a secret ballot would trench separation of powers”.
Mogoeng said Mbete should take into account the real possibilities of corruption, the prevailing circumstances and whether they allow MPs to exercise their vote in a manner that does not expose them to illegitimate hardships.
“Whether the prevailing atmosphere is generally peaceful or toxified and highly charged, is one of the important aspects of that decision-making process,” Mogoeng said.
The Institute for Security Studies has previously told the Constitutional Court that intimidation and threats against outspoken ANC MP Dr Makhosi Khoza were likely to constrain how she and other parliamentarians exercise their rights in the vote of no confidence.