The Democratic Alliance (DA) believes a secret ballot in a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma is what's best for the country.
The official opposition’s Chief Whip John Steenhuisen wrote to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete last week, calling for her to schedule the motion soon.
The party wants her to allow MPs to vote in secret.
This comes after the Constitutional Court last week confirmed that she has the power to decide on the appropriate voting method in a motion of no confidence.
Steenhuisen, however, believes Mbete will turn down the request for a secret vote.
“Unfortunately Baleka Mbete’s viewpoint always tends to lean towards what’s best for the party rather than what’s best for the Parliament.
“And the Chief Justice was quite clear around why he felt that perhaps a secret ballot should be considered as the Speaker has those powers to allow it.”
Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo says Mbete has received the letter and will implement the court's ruling.
“All that needs to be done is to ensure that going forward it forms part of how Parliament conducts its business. The court ruling has given the Speaker the powers and those powers will be exercised from now on.”
MBETE HAS TO DECIDE
The court ruled that Mbete was mistaken when she said that neither the Constitution nor parliamentary rules allow her to authorise a secret vote in a motion of no confidence in Zuma.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng made it clear the court can't decide for Mbete, but he added that her decision should be rational.
“The Speaker says that neither the Constitution nor the rules of the National Assembly allow her to authorise a vote by secret ballot. To this extent, she was mistaken. Our interpretation of the relevant provisions of the Constitution and the rules make it clear, that the Speaker does have the power to authorise a vote by a secret ballot in a motion of no confidence in the president in appropriate circumstances was invalid and must be set aside.
“It is her judgment call to make, having due regard to what would be the best procedure to ensure that members exercise their oversight powers most effectively.”
Mbete has reiterated that she has never been opposed to a secret ballot.
The ANC has also reacted to the ruling and vowed to defeat the motion of no confidence against the president.
The ANC said it has unequivocal confidence in its caucus.
The Federation of South African Unions has also welcomed the ruling. The union says the Constitutional Court strengthens democracy and provides certainty concerning the rule of law.
Meanwhile, opposition parties say they feel vindicated.
United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa, whose party launched the Constitutional Court challenge for a secret ballot, said: “The UDM feels vindicated because we asked the speaker to use her prerogative, but she put the interest of her political party ahead of Parliament.”
The Democratic Alliance’s James Selfe said Mbete has no reason not to allow a secret ballot.
“She cannot deny a secret ballot if there are grounds for having one in a rational construct.”
Constitutional Court experts believe this ruling essentially corners Mbete to allow for a secret ballot.
Mbete will now have to decide whether to hold a motion of no confidence in President Zuma in a secret vote.
(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)