Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni
Premium Journalist
2 minute read
4 Sep 2017
6:24 am

Mbete’s fate now in the balance

Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

Her secret ballot ruling could come back to haunt her if the ANC decides to take action against her.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – APRIL 02: National Assembly Speaker; Baleka Mbete addresses the media regarding the motion of no confidence against Jacob Zuma request at the OR Tambo International Airport on April 02, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan / Thulani Mbele)

The ANC is not ruling out disciplining speaker of parliament Baleka Mbete for her decision to allow a secret ballot in the eighth vote on a motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma last month.

“She is a member of the ANC and is subject to all of the rules of the ANC including discipline, otherwise, what are you saying … she is not a member of the Constitutional Court,” said ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, who would not confirm or deny that Mbete’s fate in the party was on the agenda.

Mantashe said Mbete’s presence at ANC headquarters at Luthuli House in Johannesburg recently was a matter of routine, but he would not answer whether she was asked about the secret ballot bombshell she dropped on her party, which was apparently shocked by it.

In June, the Constitutional Court ruled on an application by the United Democratic Movement (UDM), asking it to order that the vote be conducted by secret ballot.

The court ruled a secret ballot was permissible and Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said Mbete had the constitutional power to prescribe on this.

Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen weighed in on the speculation that the ruling party was in the process of internal disciplinary action against Mbete. “I believe it would be a remarkable intrusion on the speaker’s impartiality and her duty to put the interests of legislature first. Additionally, it would be a direct violation of the rulings made by the court. Clearly Luthuli House is becoming increasingly rattled.”

Experts agreed that if the ANC were to take her to task, it would be in contempt of the court ruling.

“She has good legal recourse to approach the courts.

“This could be seen as a violation of her right to make that decision independently, as the constitution says, and as the court ruled,” said political analyst Ralph Mathekga.

Constitutional expert Shadrack Gutto said that while she or any third party could challenge any action taken against her, he doubted she would fight her own party in court.