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Parliament, Monday 05 December 2022 – National Assembly (NA) Speaker Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has declined the African Transformation Movement’s (ATM) request to have the voting procedure on the Section 89 Independent Panel’s report to be held by way of a secret ballot.
ATM President Mr Vuyo Zungula wrote to the Speaker on 01 December requesting that she consider allowing MPs to vote through a secret ballot following the debate on the Section 89 panel report.
The Speaker is empowered to exercise her discretion in determining the voting method to be employed to decide questions before the House where no voting method is prescribed in the Rules of the National Assembly.
In her letter to the ATM President the Speaker said she believes that a closed voting procedure will deprive the citizens of identifying the positions of their representatives across party lines and that this may facilitate the possibility of corruption aimed at influencing members to vote in a manner where they will be shielded from accountability to the people they represent for the exercise of their constitutional duty.
The Speaker also said she had to balance Mr Zungula’s reasons for a secret ballot procedure against other imperatives, including the foundational Constitutional principle of "openness", as set out in Section 1(d) of the Constitution which guides SA democratic order. Furthermore, the Speaker said the Constitutional requirement, as set out in Section 59(1)(b), that the National Assembly must conduct its proceedings in an open manner was also an important consideration in this case.
Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula said she believes that the Constitutional imperatives set out above were equally compelling for the Assembly to uphold, when considered against her assessment of the prevailing political atmosphere in the country at present. An open and transparent procedure followed by the Assembly to exercise this important decision on the Section 89 Independent Panel Report, can only bring about public trust and confidence in the Assembly and our democratic dispensation.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
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