#NoConfidence: Mbete continues to put the ANC before Parliament

The DA notes with concern comments made by Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, relating to the upcoming Vote of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma.
Speaking to media at the ANC’s National Policy Conference 2017, Mbete responded to a question about the secret ballot by urging individual MPs to toe the party line.
She is quoted as saying that: “In as far as the question of secret or not secret [ballot], I think individuals can think whichever way they want to, but whereas a Member who was sent to Parliament by a political party, you owe it to that party to take a position as guided by it.”
Mbete’s comments show that, when faced with the inherent conflict of her role as Chairperson of the ANC and NA Speaker, she does not hesitate to put party before Parliament.
It is alarming that Mbete feels free to speak so candidly about the “obligations” of ANC MPs precisely when she is called upon to apply her mind and decide on the matter of the secret ballot.
The Constitutional Court was unequivocal in its 22 June ruling. Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, in considering if the Constitution provides for a secret ballot, noted that “Members of the ruling party are also at liberty to vote in a way that does not always have to be predetermined by their parties”.
He elegantly adds that “[e]ach Member must, depending on the grounds and circumstances of the motion, be able to do what would in reality advance our constitutional project of improving the lives of all citizens, freeing their potential and generally ensuring accountability for the way things are done in their name and purportedly for their benefit”.
Mbete must not lose sight of her responsibility as Speaker of the National Assembly, and the fact that she is both empowered to decide on the matter of the secret ballot and will, in all likelihood, preside over the motion of no confidence. She must choose her words carefully.
As Mogoeng rightly notes, “accountability is necessitated by the reality that constitutional office-bearers occupy their positions of authority on behalf of and for the common good of all the people”.

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