Home South African Bid to amend Constitution to stop frequency of motions of no confidence

Bid to amend Constitution to stop frequency of motions of no confidence

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DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube will introduce a draft constitutional amendment which plans to safeguard against instances where a motion of no confidence is brought against the president or premier on frivolous political grounds but then shortly afterwards there are real and valid grounds for their removal.

DA chief whip in parliament Siviwe Gwarube. Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)

THE DA is pushing ahead with its proposed constitutional amendment to govern coalition governments and limit the number of motions of no confidence a sitting president or premier may face in a year.

DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube will introduce a draft constitutional amendment which plans to safeguard against instances where a motion of no confidence is brought against the president or premier on frivolous political grounds, but then shortly afterwards there are real and valid grounds for their removal.

”The draft bill, therefore, intends to limit the number of motions of no confidence to be brought against a president or premier to only one motion every 12 months from the date of the last motion,” reads the DA’s proposal.

However, the official opposition also stated that as a safety net, the draft bill will propose that additional motions of no confidence may be brought in exceptional circumstances such as a violation of the Constitution or law, misconduct or the inability to perform the functions of the office.

In its notice of intention to introduce a private member’s bill, the DA explained that it was hopeful that next year’s national and provincial elections are poised to be the first instance where the ANC will slip below 50% of the votes.

“What this means for South Africa is that coalition governments will now be the ‘new norm’. Parties and independent candidates will have to come together and form workable coalitions for the good of South Africa,” the DA added.

According to the notice, in local government there have been continuous political attacks on coalition governments from opposition parties who “politic smaller parties to cross the floor in exchange for valuable positions should the current government be successfully removed by way of a motion of no confidence”.

The party said motions of no confidence are now being used as a political tool rather than for the mechanism it was originally intended, which is a process to remove a speaker or mayor from office due to them not fulfilling their duties adequately.

It said some of these motions are brought on spurious grounds only because the opposition coalition has 50% +1 of the votes to pass the motion, which leads to municipalities becoming ungovernable as new executives are regularly installed, but not allowing the incumbent administrations enough time to make a difference.

This week, former Ekurhuleni mayor Tania Campbell was ousted following a motion of no confidence brought by the ANC, EFF and other smaller opposition parties in the council.

African Independent Congress councillor Sivuyile Ngodwana was elected as Campbell’s replacement. Instability has also rocked other metropolitan municipalities such as Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay due to frequent motions of no confidence that have led to changes in their executives.

The DA has warned that the current situation could creep into provincial and national governments when they are governed through coalitions and have a disastrous impact on the country’s stability.

At its national conference in December and January, the ANC resolved to introduce a guiding policy on the formation of coalitions outlining its guiding principles and approach to coalitions, as well as consider whether there is a need for coalitions to be regulated through legislation to enhance stability in councils, including the introduction of electoral thresholds.

The ANC announced this week that its discussion paper on coalitions will be presented at its next national executive committee meeting for a decision.

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