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'UDM's secret ballot application should be dismissed with costs'

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CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma and National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete say the UDM's Constitutional Court application to allow for a secret ballot in the motion of no confidence against the president should be dismissed with costs.

Mbete and Zuma spell out their reasons in papers filed on Thursday afternoon. They are the first and second respondents respectively in the matter.

The motion of no confidence debate has been indefinitely postponed to allow the court process to unfold.

Mbete asks that if the application is not dismissed with costs, the matter be sent back to her for reconsideration with each side paying their own costs.

In her court papers, Mbete says the UDM’s application has “no merit” and is “calculated to embroil” the Constitutional Court in “political controversy”. Mbete says the UDM’s bid for a secret vote is grounded on the assumption that ANC MPs are "weak-kneed, timid, cowardly, unprincipled and spineless”.

Mbete says while she’s not personally opposed to a secret ballot, it’s not in her power to grant this and that because the Constitution does not provide for secrecy when voting on a motion of no confidence in the president, it would be wrong for the court to impose this.

Zuma, in his papers, denies that the absence of a secret vote will undermine the purpose of a motion of no confidence in him. He says the UDM’s claim that ANC MPs are being intimidated to vote against it is “highly speculative”.

(Edited by Refilwe Thobega)

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