Home South African The state of play if a motion of no confidence is successful

The state of play if a motion of no confidence is successful

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The entire cabinet would be dissolved and Speaker Baleka Mbete would become acting president if Tuesday’s motion of no confidence was successful.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete Photo: Mark Wessels/AP

The entire cabinet would be dissolved and Speaker Baleka Mbete would become acting president if today’s motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma was successful.

“It is almost the same situation you find after elections where the president has not constituted the cabinet but you have the administration, the directors-general and so on running the government,” said constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos.

Phephelani Dube, director of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, said the deputy president, as the head of the cabinet, would also be removed from his position.

The chief justice would then have to schedule a vote for a new president by the National Assembly within 30 days.

Should the National Assembly fail to elect a new president within this period, an early general election might be called, said De Vos.

“That could happen if, for example, there is no presidential candidate who receives the majority of votes.”

But Dube said the constitution was silent on this matter. “I have heard some political parties saying this, but the constitution does not say anything about it.”

President Jacob Zuma may find it difficult to get re-elected into the position as he is no longer a member of Parliament.

Therefore, the first step his supporters might well take would be to get him back into Parliament, and that would mean getting him to the top of the electoral lists.

“It is not completely impossible, but it is almost impossible,” De Vos noted.

He said if there was a vacancy, the next person on the electoral list would get seconded to Parliament. The lists can be shuffled only once a year. 

Dube agreed, saying Zuma’s re-election, should he be axed, would depend on what the ANC did with its party lists.

The only chance would be getting him onto the provincial lists, and even those require that a new person may be added only if the list has been depleted. 

“It means that if all the people on that list have become members of Parliament. That is how Brian Molefe became a member of Parliament, because North West had depleted its list,” she said.