Press Release: UPM welcome Constitutional Court’s judgment in the Secret Ballot case
Published by Legal Resources Centre 23 June 2017
For Immediate Release: 23 June 2017
The Unemployed People’s Movement welcomes the judgment of the Constitutional Court in United Democratic Movement v Speaker of the National Assembly and Others. The judgment is a vindication of its position on the use of secret ballots in motions of no confidence.
The UPM, represented by the Legal Resources Centre, participated in the case as a friend of the court.
The UPM argued that s102 of the Constitution permits motions of no confidence to be conducted through a secret ballot. UPM argued that properly interpreted, the National Assembly Rules confer discretion on the speaker to permit votes to be conducted by secret ballot. The court embraced this argument.
UPM is also pleased that the court accepted its submissions which argued that, when the speaker exercises her discretion, she should take into account various competing factors such as the need for Members of Parliament to vote without fear of unconstitutional reprisals on the one hand, and the need to ensure that our public representatives are accountable to the people through the transparency which may come through open ballot voting.
In its submissions, the UPM raised the point that allowing Parliamentarians to conduct their business secretly may undermine the people’s right to an informed vote and encourage underhand horse trading and vote buying, which may go undetected. The Constitutional Court acknowledged this point, noting that secret ballot voting has the potential to result in a “money inspired sham.”
The UPM welcomes the well-reasoned judgment as a triumph of constitutional principle over politics.
“We welcome the historic verdict by the Constitutional Court. We call upon the speaker of the national assembly and the ruling party to be on the right side of history and act in the best interests of the people, through allowing a secret ballot in the upcoming motion of no confidence vote against the current President. The corruption that is currently occurring in this country is unacceptable and incompatible with the democratic objectives of our Constitution. They have an obligation to stop the rot.” – UPM’s, Ayanda Kota