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Motion of No Confidence in President Zuma to be re-tabled after the Constitutional Court decision

Watty Watson, Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance
7 February 2013

The DA, together with other opposition parties, has every intention of re-tabling a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma as soon as the Constitutional Court has heard the matter. This is our prerogative as MPs and we will not be dictated to and bullied by President Zuma’s henchman in Parliament, Dr Mathole Motshekga.

As detailed in the court papers which we submitted to the Western Cape High Court in November last year, according to the National Assembly Rules, the Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma lapsed at the end of Parliament's 2012 Annual Session. This was one of the compelling reasons, we argued, that the motion had to be debated before the end of the year.

The ANC ignored this fact and now wish to set in stone a dangerous and unconstitutional precedent whereby they can tell individual MPs whether and when we can table motions of no confidence in the President.

The ANC will be aware that the Constitutional Court has already instructed the Speaker of the National Assembly to table a report by 14 March on the progress made in including Motions of No Confidence in the Rules of the National Assembly. We look forward to seeing this report, and the ANC would do well to respect the Constitutional Court in waiting for this direction to be abided by.

Indeed, the matter before the courts now turns on whether the Constitution envisages that any MP who tables a motion of no confidence in the President of the Republic must first seek the permission of the majority party before she may have such a motion scheduled and debated.

The ANC's "decision" to ignore the urgency of DA Parliamentary Leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko’s  motion by scheduling it after it had lapsed – 4 months after it was moved in Parliament with the support of 8 opposition parties - speaks to the very nature of this "lacuna in the NA Rules" as it was described in the Western Cape High Court ruling.

Until such time as the National Assembly Rules provide for Motions of No Confidence brought by any MP to be debated as a matter of urgency and not at the discretion of the majority party, our rights will be effectively limited by majoritarianism.

Whether the ANC likes it or not, we cannot accept this.