South African court dismisses call for Parliament speaker removal

South Africa's Western Cape High Court on Wednesday dismissed an application by opposition political parties to have National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete removed from office.


“The courts are not constitutionally mandated to remove the Speaker from office,” the court said in its ruling.

The application was fielded by three opposition parties — the Congress of the People (COPE), Agang SA and the United Democratic Movement (UDM).

The three parties want Mbete to be removed from office due to her inability to prevent Parliament proceedings from plunging into chaos. The parties also argue that Mbete, who is also the chairperson of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), favors the ANC.

They went to court after Mbete refused to recuse herself from a debate on a motion of no-confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

The application was based on the argument that proceedings in the National Assembly have descended into “utter chaos”, precipitating a constitutional crisis, which justifies the court’s intervention.

But in its ruling, the court rejected the argument, saying there is no constitutional crisis in Parliament that justifies extraordinary intervention by the judiciary.

Judicial independence would be adversely affected if the courts become embroiled in what is quintessentially a political act, the court said.

In its judgment, the court noted that the Speaker is an experienced politician who had served as Deputy Speaker and Speaker cumulatively for a period of 15 years.

“It is remarkable that the allegations regarding the Speaker’s conduct in the House manifested themselves only over a year ago”, the judgment states.

“The Speaker is entitled to remain as an office bearer of a political party, participate in its activities and campaign for political rights. Affiliation to a political party cannot in itself point to a lack of objectivity and impartiality,” the judgment says.

The Speaker’s membership of the ANC does not render her incapable or biased in performing her duties as Speaker, it adds. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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