The Constitutional Court has agreed to hear the secret ballot case brought by the UDM – who is hoping to get president Jacob Zuma recalled through a vote of no confidence – and has set the date for the case to be heard on the 15th of May 2017.
Through the case, the UDM is looking for the court to give Parliament the go-ahead to vote in a postponed motion of no confidence against president Zuma in secret.
The party is arguing that when a president is elected by Parliament, it is done in secret, so there should be nothing stopping the removal of a president being handled in the same way.
It also claimed the ANC MPs are being intimidated and threatened with losing their jobs to force them to vote against the motion.
In the separate responding submissions to the court case, both president Jacob Zuma and speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete said that the question of the secret ballot was not for the Constitutional Court to decide.
Mbete submitted that she is not personally opposed to a secret vote, but must uphold the rules of the National Assembly, which does not give her the power to order a secret ballot.
She criticised the UDM’s application to the Constitutional Court saying it worked against the country’s separation of powers, and that the party should have approached the Parliamentary Rules Committee.
Zuma’s submission was more direct, saying that UDM itself has admitted that there is no Constitutional mandate for the vote to be made in secret, and so is not competent.
The president also said that claims made by the UDM that MPs were being threatened or intimidated were not supported by any evidence and were unfounded.
Zuma and Mbete were hoping the Constitutional Court would dismiss the UDM’s application, but the court has instead agreed to hear the case.
The motion of no confidence, which was initially scheduled for 18 April, has been postponed until the court case has been dealt with.