The court case that everyone called a win

Western Cape High Court The court dismisses DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko’s application. The court rules parliamentary Speaker Max Sisulu does not have the power to override the programming committee (which was deadlocked on the issue) and to schedule the motion of no confidence. The court says all parties must pay their own legal costs. It rules there appears to be a gap in Parliament’s rules because the rules don’t cater for motions of no confidence

The Constitutional Court this week delivered a judgment in the controversial case that saw the DA and other opposition parties attempt to compel Parliament to hear a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma. The decision was furiously celebrated as a victory by all the parties involved. CHARL DU PLESSIS summarises the various arguments and findings of the court so you can decide for yourself

KEY: Lindiwe Mazibuko – Parliamentary leader of the DA and official leader of the opposition Max Sisulu – Speaker of the National Assembly Mathole Motshekga – Chief whip of the National Assembly and the chief whip of the ANC
Appeal

Appeal

Appeal

Constitutional Court Argument 1 Arguments in the Constitutional Court Mazibuko says the high court was wrong in finding Sisulu did not have power to override the committee and to schedule the motion of no confidence. Mazibuko says the National Assembly creates a special power for the speaker to make a ruling when the rules don’t provide a suitable answer

Constitutional Court Argument 2 Sisulu says the high court was wrong relating to costs. Mazibuko should pay his legal fees because she had lost the application in the high court

Constitutional Court Argument 3 Mathole Motshekga, then ANC chief whip and the chief whip of the National Assembly, says the high court was wrong in finding that Mazibuko does not have to pay his legal costs. He also argues the high court was wrong about two of the findings it made related to the rules of the National Assembly

Constitutional Court Argument 4 This argument is an alternative or secondary argument to Argument 1. Mazibuko says the Constitutional Court must give her direct access to it (bypassing the high court and Supreme Court of Appeal) and declare that the rules of Parliament relating to motions of no confidence are unconstitutional

Constitutional Court Argument 5 Mazibuko argues that she wants the Constitutional Court to declare that Parliament failed in one of its constitutional duties because it did not schedule the motion of no confidence

The majority of the Constitutional Court’s decision

Appeal is dismissed The Constitutional Court says Mazibuko was not entitled to ask the court for an order against Sisulu because the Speaker does not have the power to schedule a motion of no confidence. The special powers given to Sisulu to make rulings don’t apply to motions of no confidence

Appeal succeeds The court rules that Mazibuko “rushed to court” with inappropriate haste, in spite of the Speaker’s request for time to take legal advice. The court rules that Mazibuko must pay Sisulu’s legal fees

Appeal is dismissed The court rules that Motshekga’s resistance to Mazibuko’s attempt to have a motion of no confidence scheduled caused Mazibuko to rush to court. The court also says there is no justification in granting the chief whip leave to appeal the high court’s findings related to the rules of the National Assembly

Application is successful The court finds that the rules of Parliament are inconsistent with the Constitution because they do not cater specifically for the right of MPs to have a motion of no confidence heard. The court finds that neither a minority nor a majority party should be able to prevent a motion of no confidence from reaching the floor of the National Assembly

“Dispute for another day” The court refrained from deciding whether Parliament failed in a constitutional duty. The court says “that dispute must wait for another day”

LOST

WON
A minority of the court would have dismissed the appeal entirely

LOST

WON

Not decided
CHARL DU PLESSIS, JACO GROBBELAAR, Graphics24

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