Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

MPs argue over open ballot as dates for no confidence motions against Ramaphosa, Cabinet set

The debate and voting on the motions will take place on 30 March.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Cabinet are set to face a vote of no confidence later this month, National Assembly Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has confirmed.

This was revealed during a National Assembly Programming Committee meeting on Thursday.

In the proceedings, Mapisa-Nqakula told MPs that the motions tabled by the African Transformation Movement (ATM) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) will be debated and voted in three weeks’ time on 30 March.

 “Other matters arising are the scheduling of the two of no confidence [against] the president and Cabinet… I will provide feedback, but for now we are proposing the date of the 30th of March honourable members for both the debate and voting for these two motion of no-confidence,” she said.

Open ballot

The Speaker also indicated that an open ballot, rather than a secret ballot, will be held for both votes.

“On the 30th of March when we conduct the votes on these motions, the voting will be open which will make things easy for the [chief] whips and for all parties,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.

“My understanding has always been that if we vote the [chief] whips will pronounce on the votes, however, if there’s anyone who want to vote differently from the position of their parties then members will feel free to do so,” she added.

DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone, however, raised concerns to Mapisa-Nqakula regarding an open ballot, requesting that the Speaker get legal opinion on the matter so it could be discussed before the D-Day.

ALSO READ: ATM’s secret ballot bid on Ramaphosa no-confidence vote declined

“At this stage, an open vote on something like this could be … we might as well be wasting our time. We have a joke inside parliament on how long you are likely to stay around if you vote against your party line,” Mazzone said.

In this response to this, Mapisa-Nqakula said: “I wouldn’t have come and preside on this meeting without seeking a legal opinion. I have been discussing with the legal team and the legal team has given me advice which I believe is correct. As far as I am concerned the environment in Parliament is not toxic at all.”

The Speaker further said it would be in the “interest of transparency and democracy” to hold an open ballot.

‘Makes a sham’

She also dismissed the DA’s request that the executive be excluded from participating in the debate as well as voting process because of a possible conflict of interest.

“I have ruled that members of the executive will participate in the debate and will also participate in the vote because they are first and foremost members of parliament before they are members of the executive,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.

This is despite DA deputy chief whip Siviwe Gwarube’s protests.

“To allow the executive to vote for themselves in a motion that concerns themselves, while it may be legally sound, makes absolutely no sense and makes a sham of this entire process. I am asking that this be reconsidered because I think it completely defeats the purpose of the motion,” Gwarube said.

READ MORE: ANC doesn’t belong to DA, says Mantashe after motion of no confidence bid

But Mapisa-Nqakula argued that “you can’t deny the right for people to vote because the law allows them to do so”.

The Speaker added that MPs were allowed to make formal submissions if they disagreed with her decision.

“If want to take this matter on a review you are free to do so. For now the ruling I am making is that both motions will debated and voted for on the 30th of March, and that it will be expected that all members of Parliament will avail themselves,” she said.

Rampahosa and Cabinet

Last month, Mapisa-Nqakula rejected the ATM’s request to hold a secret ballot regarding its motion of no confidence against Ramaphosa.

The ATM had resubmitted their motion of no confidence application to Parliament following a ruling delivered by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in December 2021.

The motion targeted Ramaphosa’s leadership over the sealing of his bank statements related to his 2017 campaign for the ANC presidency, among other things.

DA leader John Steenhuisen announced during the State of the Nation Address (Sona) debate last month that he had lodged a motion of no-confidence against Ramaphosa’s entire Cabinet.

NOW READ: Open ballot for Ramaphosa no-confidence vote ‘defies logic’, says ATM president

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