The Western Cape High Court has postponed the African Transformation Movement’s (ATM’s) application to hold the no-confidence motion against President Cyril Ramaphosa via a secret ballot. Subsequently, the no-confidence motion, scheduled for today, will likely not happen.
The ATM’s application will be heard on 3 February 2021.
ATM leader Vuyolwethu Zungula had written to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise requesting a postponement of the sitting scheduled for 3 December 2020.
“The basis of asking for the postponement is that ATM has launched proceedings before the Western Cape High Court under the case number 19989 of 2020, wherein ATM seeks the court to review and set aside the decision by the speaker to decline a vote by secret ballot,” said Zungula in a letter.
The party wants the motion to be postponed until the finalization of court proceedings.
Both Legal teams of ATM and the Speaker have agreed to ask the Speaker to postpone the #NoConfidenceMotion against President Ramaphosa following the postponement of the Secret Ballot case to 3rd & 4th February 2021 pic.twitter.com/TyRGgoz8Pa
— African Transformation Movement (@ATMovement_SA) December 3, 2020
Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo confirmed on Wednesday that Parliament had been served with papers by the ATM, petitioning the Western Cape High Court to set aside Modise’s decision on its request for a secret ballot.
In a debate held by the National Assembly programme committee on the ATM’s proposal, which took place on 26 November, Modise rejected that the motion be voted on through a secret ballot. She cited Section 1(d) of the Constitution, which states openness as “a fundamental principle for our democracy”.
She also said the ATM “had not offered any evidence of a highly charged atmosphere or intimidation of any members in the motivation for their request”.
“In making a decision, speaker must therefore consider the constitutional imperatives of transparency, openness and public participation, on one hand, and ensuring MPs can exercise their functions without intimidation or hardship, on the other hand.
“ConCourt in 2017 indicated that a secret ballot becomes necessary where the prevailing atmosphere is toxified or highly charged. ATM has not offered proof of a highly charged atmosphere, intimidation of any Member or evidence of threats against the lives of members and families, which may warrant secret ballot.
“As public representatives of the electorate, Members are not supposed to always operate under a veil of secrecy,” said Modise in a statement.
She also argued that the current virtual sessions of the National Assembly would render the practicalities of a secret ballot challenging.
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