SOUTH AFRICA POLITICS: Baleka Mbete Cannot Remain Fair, Impartial

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By Politicoscope May 15, 2017 12:49

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Speaker of parliament Baleka Mbete cannot fulfil her obligation to remain fair and impartial because her position as ANC national chairman creates “irreconcilable conflict of interest”.

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SOUTH AFRICA POLITICS: Baleka Mbete Cannot Remain Fair, Impartial

Speaker of parliament Baleka Mbete cannot fulfil her obligation to remain fair and impartial because her position as ANC national chairman creates “irreconcilable conflict of interest”.

So said the Council for the Advancement for the SA Constitution, which last week applied to be allowed amicus curae (friend of the court) in a motion brought before the Constitutional Court.

The motion is to force a secret vote in parliament to decide the upcoming motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma. The matter will be heard today.

Casac argues that although Mbete’s duties as speaker do not preclude her from being a member of a political party, she is required to perform the functions of that office “fairly and impartially”.

The organisation wishes to join the application brought by the United Democratic Movement, supported by other parties, for a secret vote and argues that an MP’s obligation to the constitution comes before party mandates.

“The speaker is no mere member of the ruling party, she is its national chairman. She is thus subject to an irreconcilable conflict of interest that makes her obligation in respect of a no-confidence motion impossible to perform.

“She cannot at once seek, as ANC chairman, to ensure that her party speaks with one voice and, as speaker, to act impartially in ensuring that all members are entitled to vote according to their constitutional obligations.”

Casac submits that if the court finds that the constitution permits but does not require a secret ballot, it should direct the speaker to arrange for a vote by secret ballot.

Zuma filed an affidavit on Thursday opposing the UDM’s application, saying that voting by way of an open ballot is not unconstitutional, as claimed by the UDM.

The president dismissed as spurious the UDM’s claim that MPs participating in an openly held motion of no-confidence vote could be intimidated or suffer career-limiting consequences.

In her affidavit Mbete said she is “personally not averse to having a motion of no confidence in the president being decided by secret ballot”. She argued that the UDM should have approached parliament’s rules committee.

“This application has no merit. it is calculated to embroil this court in political controversy in a matter that involved a violation of the principle of separation of powers and it is grounded on the assumption that the members of the National Assembly, particularly the ANC, are weak-kneed, timid, cowardly, unprincipled and spineless persons, which assumption I am not prepared to make,” said Mbete.

– Times Live

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By Politicoscope May 15, 2017 12:49

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