NTOMBI NKOSI AND IOL
This comes on the back of National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula declining a request submitted by the African Transformation Movement (ATM) to have the voting procedure on the Section 89 independent panel report into President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm scandal held via a secret ballot.
ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe during a media briefing said he thought that the speaker exercised her own discretion.
“There is a very interesting and dubious understanding from political parties that if we do secret ballot, people might vote with their conscience and sell out their parties. I mean, you were voted by seven people. Why do you think you will get votes? Stick to your seven. You want people to do a secret ballot. This wanting a secret ballot is to believe that you'll get more votes. South Africans went to the polls and gave you seven seats. It means you have seven votes,” said Mabe.
This comes after ATM president Vuyo Zungula wrote to Mapisa-Nqukula on December 1, asking that MPs be allowed to vote through a secret ballot following the debate on the Section 89 panel report.
“The Speaker is empowered to exercise her discretion in determining the voting method to be employed to decide questions before the House, where no voting method is prescribed in the Rules of the National Assembly,” Parliament said in a statement released on Monday morning.
In her letter to Zungula, Mapisa-Nqakula says she believes that a closed voting procedure will deprive citizens of identifying the positions of their representatives across party lines and that this may facilitate the possibility of corruption aimed at influencing members to vote in a manner where they will be shielded from accountability to the people they represent for the exercise of their constitutional duty.
The Speaker also said she had to balance Zungula’s reasons for a secret ballot procedure against other imperatives, including the foundational constitutional principle of “openness”, as set out in Section 1(d) of the Constitution, which guides SA democratic order. Furthermore, the Speaker said the constitutional requirement, as set out in Section 59(1)(b), that the National Assembly must conduct its proceedings in an open manner was also an important consideration in this case.
Mapisa-Nqakula added that she believed that the constitutional imperatives set out were equally compelling for the (House of) Assembly to uphold when considered against her assessment of the prevailing political atmosphere in the country.
“An open and transparent procedure followed by the Assembly to exercise this important decision on the Section 89 Independent Panel Report can only bring about public trust and confidence in the Assembly and our democratic dispensation,” said the Speaker.
After the decision was made, speaking to Independent Media, Zungula said they would have loved, as ATM, if the speaker had granted their request.
“The speaker showed that she is out of touch with what is happening, and she does not value the lives of the members of Parliament, because the political situation now is divisive and so polarised to an extent whereby members of the same parties are protesting against one another, all because of this vote that we will be happening tomorrow,” said Zungula.
He further said: “We see this as a blessing in disguise because members of parliament tomorrow will be exposed for who they are and what they believe in. MPs who vote against parliament having an inquiry or a probe to actually get to the bottom of what happened in Phala Phala. Those members should be known as people who are anti constitution and anti-oath of office because there's no righteous member of parliament that would vote against Parliament doing its work”.
Additional information: IOL