Amidst concern over the voting patterns in the recent motion of no-confidence against President Jacob Zuma, and calls from within the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to discipline members who voted against the party line, Parliament has responded by saying the “integrity of the secret ballot was beyond reproach”.
While ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe has stated that there would be no “witch hunt” to unmask ANC MPs who “betrayed the party line”, he did indicate that those who publicly advertised their agreement with the opposition would be disciplined. Others, including KwaZulu-Natal and Free State ANC PWCs, as well as various commentators, have called for an investigation into who voted with the opposition. It is to this backdrop that Parliament has sought to “reaffirm” that all measures were taken to protect the secrecy of the vote.
“Parliament notes public debate regarding how certain MPs voted during the secret ballot to consider the motion
of no confidence in the President on 8 August,” read a statement released by Parliament.
“Parliament wishes to reaffirm that all the necessary measures were put in place to ensure that the integrity of the secret ballot is not compromised, thereby making the identity of the voter impossible to trace…
“The rigorous confidentiality measures regarding the Motion of No Confidence were endorsed by all parties and are similar to those employed in the election of the President and Presiding Officers since 1994.”
The statement also covered some of the security measures that were put in place:
“The only printing on the ballot papers was an authentication stamp and simple question with a choice of three options against which to make a mark: No, Yes or Abstain. To further ensure maximum secrecy of the
process, no gadgets were permitted in the voting booth, photojournalists with zoom lens cameras were requested to vacate the gallery and chamber broadcast camera controllers were ordered not to focus on voting booths.