S. African parliament postpones Zuma no-confidence vote

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South Africa's parliament has chose to postpone a debate and a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma, officials said.

The debate and vote on the motion of no confidence was brought by Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane.

Speaker Baleka Mbete also filed an affidavit at the ConCourt which said she was "personally not averse to having a motion of no confidence in the President being decided by secret ballot".

"We are to write to the speaker asking for a postponement until the constitutional court issue is settled", James Selfe, the DA's federal executive chairman, said by phone.

The court gave parties wishing to oppose the UDM's application for a secret ballot until 12:00 on Thursday to file papers, and the UDM until 16:00 next Wednesday to file its reply.

The UDM wants the court to grant a secret ballot when the motion goes ahead.

South African President Jacob Zuma addresses a business meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 3, 2016.

Parliament said for Mbete to have acceded to Holomisa's request would have been unconstitutional. "Similarly, the rules of the National Assembly do not provide for secret voting".

"The Speaker has no authority in law to alter such provisions", Parliament said on Monday.

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He said rule 129 (5) of the National Assembly gave Mbete the power to schedule the motion and therefore, also the implied power to postpone and reschedule such a motion.

The motion was to be debated at a specially convened sitting of the National Assembly on Tuesday.

"They don't want to help the ANC, they want to destroy it and how do you vote together with people who openly say they want to destroy the ANC?"

In the Constitutional Court papers, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa argued that without a secret ballot, the objectives of the motion of no confidence would be "fatally undermined". Opposition parties, united as they have around this issue, require support from the ANC's 249 seats in the 400-strong National Assembly.

The high court had jurisdiction to determine the case, she said.

"It merely seeks to establish that the decision of the Speaker that the Constitution and the Rules prohibit a motion of no confidence being determined by secret ballot is not sustainable or consistent with our Constitution".

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said the apparent confusion showed how crucial the court decision was to the no confidence vote.

The motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma is off, and will only be considered when MPs return to Parliament after the recess in early May.