Law expert answers big 'what-ifs' ahead of Zuma no confidence debate

Did you know that if the vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma is successful on Tuesday, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete will have to fill his shoes for as long as a month?

Legal expert and political analyst Professor Richard Calland explains that, if Zuma is voted out, he and his Cabinet will have to vacate office, effective immediately.

The no confidence vote has immediate effect. Therefore the government has to step down and the Speaker (Baleka Mbete) would immediately become the acting president, according to the Constitution.

Professor Richard Calland, Public Law Lecturer at UCT

Read: If Baleka Mbete called Pierre de Vos for advice on the no confidence vote

The Constitution states that National Assembly would have to reconvene within 30 days in order to vote for a new president, under the watch of the Chief Justice (Mogoeng Mogoeng).

Calland explains that if Parliament failed to reach a decision on the right candidate to become President, then an early general election would have to be called.

He says that Mbete has lost her legitimacy amid questions about her conflict of interest as National Assembly Speaker and ANC's national chairperson.

He adds that in the case of a successful vote against Zuma, removed minsters could be re-appointed in the formation of a new Cabinet.

Also read: NEC decision to back Zuma 'ill-advised', says ANC MP Mondli Gungubele

Calland explored the outcomes of various scenarios, including:

  • if Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is appointed President
  • if the secret ballot matter is taken on review
  • if the matter would be considered urgent by the courts
  • the potential political gains for opposition parties
  • the possible effects of the motion on ANC's December elective conference

The principle of rationality has become embedded in South African Constitutional law. It means the Speaker has to take into accuount evidence beofre er

Professor Richard Calland, Public Law Lecturer at UCT

The evidence that has been emerging over the last few months is evidence of a government that should no longer be in office and a President who is no longer fit.

Professor Richard Calland, Public Law Lecturer at UCT

What we really need is National Assembly to do its job and remove the President and government.

Professor Richard Calland, Public Law Lecturer at UCT

According to Calland, there should ideally be an open vote in Parliament in order to promote transparency and other democratic values.

He explained the difference between the no confidence debate (section 102 of the Constitution) and the uncharted territory of an impeachment bid (Section 89 of the Constitution).

Take a listen to his insights:


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