THE speaker of South Africa’s lower house of parliament has authorised a vote on a motion of no-confidence in President Cyril Ramaphosa, a parliamentary official said on Thursday.
The request for the vote was made by a small political party, the African Transformation Movement (ATM), which has only two seats in the 400-member National Assembly, meaning it has little chance of succeeding.
“There had been a request by the ATM for a motion of no-confidence in the president that came through several months ago. The speaker has approved that request, and our recommendation is that it be dealt with next Thursday,” the official told the National Assembly’s programming committee.
A spokeswoman for the parliamentary caucus of the governing African National Congress (ANC) party, which Ramaphosa leads, declined to comment.
The ANC has 230 seats in the National Assembly.
Ramaphosa’s predecessor as head of state, Jacob Zuma, survived many no-confidence votes before being ousted by Ramaphosa’s allies in the ANC in February 2018.
According to the constitution, a motion of no confidence in the president needs to be supported by a simple majority or at least 201 lawmakers in the National Assembly to pass.
The constitution also makes provision for the removal of a sitting president for serious violations of law, misconduct or an inability to perform the functions of the office, but this requires a two-thirds majority in the assembly.
The largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said it did not support the ATM motion.
The Economic Freedom Fighters, the second-largest opposition group, said it would respond later. Ramaphosa’s spokesman did not answer his phone.
The ATM brought forward the motion over the sealing of the CR17 campaign bank statements, continued implementation of loading shedding and Ramaphosa’s failure to deal with unemployment in the country.
This comes on a day when Ramaphosa faced off with the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, in the Constitutional Court over the president’s ANC campaign funding.
Mkhwebane believes that Rampahosa has a duty to disclose donations raised during his campaign for ANC presidency.
Mkhwebane’s legal representatives, including Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, said the case against the president was of exceptional circumstances, making it worthy of a direct appeal to the Constitutional Court.
Mkhwebane’s legal team argued, among others, that if the question of whether the president misled Parliament was to be determined objectively, it is incontrovertible that he did mislead the National Assembly.
Common cause facts bear out that finding, her legal team argued.
They also argued that the president reverted to the National Assembly does not detract from the fact that at the time he made the statement and misled Parliament.
“That he came back to correct should not affect the fact that he misled Parliament,” Mkhwebane’s legal team argued.
In March this year, the North Gauteng High Court disagreed and set aside her report and her decision to investigate the CR17 campaign for money laundering.
In her report, Mkhwebane found Ramaphosa had deliberately misled parliament when he answered a question from the Democratic Alliance’s then-leader Mmusi Maimane about a R500 000 campaign donation from the late Bosasa’s boss, Gavin Watson.
At the Constitutional Court on Thursday, Wim Trengrove, said Mkhwebane misread and misquoted the executive ethics code when she compiled her report.
He said Mkhwebane made “errors so obvious and so patent that no lawyer acting in good faith could have made” in her finding that Ramaphosa had misled parliament on the funding for his ANC presidential campaign of 2017.
Trengove said Ramaphosa had not misled parliament when responding to Maimane’s parliamentary question on the R500,000 payment to his son, Andile, by Watson, the former chief executive officer of Bosasa.
Ramaphosa had responded to a question regarding a payment Watson made to his son, “so there is absolutely no basis for a finding that he deliberately misled parliament”, Trengove said.
Trengove said it was an “utterly spurious” finding by Mkhwebane that there was prima facie evidence or suspicion of money laundering in the flow of money for funding the campaign.
Trengove added that Mkhwebane had no evidence of money laundering in the R500,000 that was donated by Bosasa to Ramaphosa’s campaign.
That in her report Mkhwebane had referred to the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act instead of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act when dealing with the suspicion of money laundering, lead to an irrational assessment, Trengove said.
“That was the motive [to nail the president] behind the public protector’s findings,” Trengove said.
Trengove said Mkhwebane should have afforded Ramaphosa an opportunity to respond to her proposed remedial action and further argued that it was not competent of the public protector to direct the national director of public prosecutions on how to implement her remedial action.
(SOURCE: INSIDE POLITICS with additional reporting by Reuters)