South African Parliament Speaker Baleka Mbete has decided to postpone debate and vote on the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma, Parliament said Wednesday.
The decision followed a request by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), under whose leader the motion was tabled, for postponing the motion pending conclusion of the Constitutional Court application by the United Democratic Movement (UDM), Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.
The motion was originally scheduled for April 18, as requested by DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
But the UDM approached the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) on Monday, asking for an order to have voting on the motion of no confidence conducted through a secret ballot.
The ConCourt on Tuesday granted the UDM access to argue its application for a secret ballot when a motion of no confidence in Zuma is conducted.
Under the court ruling, other involving parties can file opposing papers until April 21.
Following the court order, several opposition parties have called for the postponement of the debate.
The UDM said a new date should be set for April 25 so as to allow the respondents time to file their papers.
While agreeing to the postponement, Mbete did not say when the debate would be conducted, according to Mothapo.
The postponement of the motion will be referred to the National Assembly Programme Committee for its consideration after the constituency period, Mothapo said.
“The Programme Committee will be requested to reflect on the implications of the postponement of the motion of no confidence on the programme of the House, especially in light of Rule 90 (rule of anticipation),” the spokesperson said.
In terms of Rule 90, postponed motions remain on the programming system of the Assembly, thereby blocking any MP from tabling a similar motion until the one that has been tabled is debated and voted on.
The DA submitted the motion in the hope of toppling Zuma, who has been criticized for reshuffling the cabinet on March 31, with the sacking of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and nine other ministers.
The move has prompted international rating agencies Standard & Poor’s and Fitch to downgrade SA’s credit rating to junk status.
Opposition parties believe that a secret ballot would allow MPs of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to vote in favor of the motion.
The ANC has rejected calls by opposition parties for a secret ballot.
The party has said its MPs must vote according to the party line.
Some ANC MPs reportedly voiced fear that they would be disciplined or removed if they vote in support of the motion.
For a vote of no confidence motion to be successful, it requires 201 of the 400 National Assembly MPs to vote in favor.
If the motion is successful, then the president, his deputy, cabinet ministers and all their deputies must resign as provided for in section 102 of the Constitution.
In 2016, Zuma survived two no confidence motions in Parliament that is dominated by ANC MPs. Enditem