COPE asks to join UDM secret ballot case as co-applicants

The Congress of the People (COPE) has asked to join the Constitutional Court case by the United Democratic Movement to have a motion of confidence in the president decided by secret ballot.

COPE president Mosioua Lekota said his party wanted to bring additional pieces of evidence before the court which it believed were relevant to the adjudication of the disputes at issue.

This was evidence of intimidation of national deputy general secretary of the South African Communist Party Solly Mapaila‚ and previous instances where the African National Congress had allowed a free vote according to each member’s conscience.

Mosioua Lekota

Lekota said it had come to his attention that Mapaila was not only booed but also had a firearm pointed at him on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the death of former SACP general secretary Chris Hani in Boksburg on April 10.

“It is reasonable to assert that such unprecedented hostility to Mr Mapaila was solely triggered by the stance recently adopted by the SACP that President (Jacob) Zuma must step down from the office of the President of South Africa‚ which is central to the present application‚” Lekota said in his affidavit filed on Wednesday.

Lekota said members of the SACP who were also ANC members of Parliament‚ numbering about 20‚ might feel conflicted between that call by the SACP and whatever call from ANC leadership.
Lekota said in 1996‚ when the Termination of Pregnancy Bill was voted into law‚ an ANC member abstained and a large number of ANC members were absent from Parliament when the vote was concluded.

Lekota said neither the member who abstained from voting nor the absent ANC members were threatened or disciplined for not voting in accordance with the ANC’s position on this Bill.

Lekota said in November 2016‚ the National Assembly had to vote on the Civil Union Bill.

He said one ANC member abstained from voting and other ANC MPs were absent from voting.

“In my personal experience gained during the above administrative periods under both Presidents (Nelson) Mandela and (Thabo) Mbeki respectively‚ members of Parliament were allowed by the ANC to vote with their conscience even if this happened to differ with the party line‚” Lekota said.

Lekota said it was clear that the free vote was allowed in respect of conscientious matters on which the population itself was inherently divided.

“The present issue of the national crisis associated with the current President and which triggered the motion(s) of no-confidence belongs to that same category of issues serving before the National Assembly‚” Lekota said.