While today’s secret ballot vote on yet another motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma will be the first ever in democratic South Africa, there will be no “extraordinary security measures” around the event in the National Assembly.
A Parliamentary statement, dispelling weekend reports of meetings which included Parliamentary Protection Services, the State Security Agency, the SA Police Service and the Presidential Protection Unit, regarding upgraded security around the no confidence vote said it was “merely one of a series of joint co-ordination meetings” preparing for next year’s State of the Nation (SONA) address.
“Arrangements for SONA always start well in advance of this signature event in the country’s political calendar,” the statement said, adding “no extraordinary security measures have been planned for Tuesday”.
“Procedures normally in operation for entry and exit of the public to the Parliamentary precinct and the National Assembly chamber will be in operation.”
It also noted “management of marches to Parliament and areas immediately outside the Parliamentary precinct is the prerogative of the City of Cape Town”.
As to the actual vote, which will take place after 14h00 today, another Parliament statement said: “The question to be voted upon will be printed on the ballot paper, with the following options: YES, NO or ABSTAIN. There will be two ballot boxes and four voting booths, of which one will be wheelchair accessible. The Speaker will direct that the empty boxes be shown to Members and thereafter sealed with cable ties”.
In the National Assembly chamber a control sheet will be prepared beforehand with Members’ names and they will be called in alphabetic order to collect ballot papers from the voting table. Each ballot paper issued will be stamped before being given to a Member. Names of Members issued with ballot papers will be crossed out on the control sheet. Members will proceed to one of the four booths and vote by making a clear mark or cross alongside the YES, NO or ABSTAIN option. Each Member present must vote and may only vote once. Once all Members present have voted, the Speaker will direct that ballot boxes be closed and sealed. The opening slit on the lid of the ballot box (for insertion of ballot papers) will also be sealed after the ballots are cast. The Speaker will request each party to designate one Whip or representative to witness the counting process. Business will be suspended for counting.
Votes will be counted in a room set aside for this purpose by the Serjeant-at-arms and vote counting will be supervised by Speaker Baleka Mbete, in the presences of party Whips or their representatives.
“All ballot boxes will be opened in the presence of the Speaker, Whips or party representatives. Votes will be sorted, counted and audited in the presence of the Speaker, Whips or party representatives. The Secretary to the National Assembly will sign-off the result before handing it over to the Speaker.
“No-one is to disclose the results, in any way whatsoever, before the Speaker announces the result in the Assembly. No-one may use any electronic devices in the counting room,” the statement said.