Court rejects motion against Mbete

Court rejects motion against Mbete

An application by Agang SA, UDM and Cope to have National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete removed has been dismissed by the Western Cape High Court.


The minority opposition parties had argued that Mbete, who is also the chairperson of the African National Congress, was partisan and biased, and thus unfit to hold office.

In their judgment, Judges Patricia Goliath, Robert Henney and Babalwa Mantame agree that there is no constitutional crisis in Parliament that justifies extraordinary intervention by the court.

In December, Agang SA approached the court after parliamentary leader Andries Tlouamma, tabled a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

Agang SA did not want Mbete to preside over the debate and wanted voting done by secret ballot.

The motion was scheduled for February, but Mbete refused to recuse herself and the National Assembly rejected the secret ballot.

The full bench concurred that courts were not constitutionally mandated to remove the Speaker from office.

"Judicial independence would be adversely affected should the courts become embroiled in what is quintessentially a political act, save for those limited instances where legality calls on them to do so," the judgment stated.

Both Parliament and the office of ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani welcome the judgment.

"The judgment provides an authoritative affirmation of established Parliamentary processes, its conventions, practices and Rules, as well as the Presiding Officers' power to execute these as envisaged in the Constitution," Parliament stated.

Sizani’s office states that the rules of the house are not created by presiding officers, but by parties represented in Parliament.

"The presiding officers are only responsible for ensuring the rules are implemented fairly and without any favour or prejudice – which is what Speaker Mbete and other presiding officers have done without fail," it said.

(File photo)

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