The Constitutional Court in South Africa has ruled that the Speaker of Parliament could decide if a no confidence vote against embattled leader, Jacob Zuma, could be held through secret ballots.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng ruled that Speaker Baleka Mbete had the ‘necessary latitude to call for such a vote.’
Mbete – a leading member of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) – had repeatedly refused requests by opposition parties for previous no confidence votes to be held via secret ballots. Her position prompted the case being taken to the top court.
The opposition parties especially the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have held that ANC members would vote against the president once the vote was anonymously carried out.
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, which has a majority in parliament, has said it will vote against the motion as it always has, but factions within the party are battling for control before a party conference in December where they must choose a successor to 75-year old leader.
Zuma, who will be in parliament later in the day for question and answer session, has survived four previous no-confidence votes. The ball is now in the court of the Speaker to decide which way to go when the next vote is called.
Opposition parties have hailed the court ruling as the first step in removing Zuma who has been dogged by repeated corruption scandals and a damning report by the country’s anti-corruption ombudsman.
A leader of one opposition party, UDM, described the ruling as a “victory for democracy.”
EFF welcomes the unanimous judgment handed down today by the Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on the Secret Ballot. #SecretBallot— EFF Official Account (@EFFSouthAfrica) June 22, 2017
It's embarrassing for ConCourt to correct Speaker on an incorrect decision whether she has power 2 order secret ballot or not. #SecretBallot— EFF Official Account (@EFFSouthAfrica) June 22, 2017
As the EFF, we have no other interest but that a motion of no confidence in Zuma be held by a secret ballot. #SecretBallot— EFF Official Account (@EFFSouthAfrica) June 22, 2017