The National Speaker will retain the power to decide whether a motion of no confidence in the president is debated, according to proposals being debated by Parliament’s rules sub-committee on Monday.
However, according to a proposed sixth draft of the parliamentary rules, parties would have to give hard evidence to back up their applications to get the motion onto the order paper.
Speaker Baleka Mbete, who is also the ANC’s national chairperson, has already been accused of bias towards President Jacob Zuma.
Sub-committee chairperson Richard Mdakane said motions of no confidence were political statements, but guidelines were still needed.
He added that because the South African Constitution did not allow for impeachment of a president, an application for a motion was given to the speaker, who might decide it could be debated in the chamber.
Committee adviser Casper Hahndiek said the proposals were not being developed with a specific case in mind and should be objective.
The details of whether “unparliamentary language” may be used in a question were still to be finalised.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Sam Matiase said some guidelines regarding motions of no confidence were not in keeping with section 89 of the Constitution.
“You are trying to throw to us the rules of Parliament. We are throwing to you the Constitution, the rules of the land,” Matiase said.
Currently the Constitution stated a motion of no confidence and removal of a president could be done if: there was serious constitutional or legal violation; serious misconduct and the inability to perform the function of the office.
PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE
“Any attempt to make it difficult for the opposition to remove a president will be challenged,” he said.
Hahndiek added: “Of course if the speaker doesn’t apply that test objectively, you can challenge what the speaker is doing. In fact you should challenge what the speaker is doing.”
However, the EFF said the emphasis on prima facie evidence was not consistent with chapter 7 of the Constitution.
”The court will rule. The court will tell you whether it is constitutional or not,” Ndakane said.
The last attempt at getting a motion of no confidence against Zuma debated ended in chaos and was outvoted by the ANC. News24