Secret ballots and no-confidence votes – what’s going on in Parliament?

Mike Roussos

The members of Parliament make up the legislature. It is made up of members from all the political parties that won enough votes in the last general election to qualify for one or more of their members to represent the voters in Parliament (around 0.25% of the votes gives you one member of Parliament – as there are 400 seats/members in total).

The president is elected by the members of Parliament, the legislative arm of government. The chief justice, who is the head of the judicial arm of government, is responsible for getting the elected president to take his oath of office before he can officially take over as the head of the executive arm of government.

This oath binds the president to “be faithful to and advance the Republic of SA”, “to protect and promote the rights of all South Africans”, to “obey, observe, uphold and maintain the Constitution and all other law of the Republic”, “do justice to all” and “devote himself to the well-being of the Republic and all of its people” – amongst other things.

The president must then appoint his Cabinet who, together with the president, make up the executive arm of government.
Once the president has been legally installed, he can only be removed in one of two ways;

He can be removed (in terms of section 89 of the Constitution) on the grounds of

– a serious violation of the Constitution or the law
– for serious misconduct
– or due to his inability to perform the functions of his office.

This can be done by a resolution that gains the support of at least two thirds of the members of the national assembly or 267 out of the 400 members.

He can also be removed by a simple majority of the members of Parliament, voting for a motion of no-confidence in the president (in terms of section 102 (2) of the constitution). If that passes, then the president and the entire Cabinet (including all deputy ministers) must resign. This does not have to be for the kinds of reasons stipulated in section 89 above but can be for any reason that is found to be acceptable by a simple majority of the members of the legislature.

A no-confidence resolution that is proposed in terms of section 102(2) of the Constitution, is one way to force Parliament to debate whether they really have confidence in the current president, and by implication, in the entire Executive (the president and the Cabinet he appointed).

What if the vote of no confidence succeeds?
What if the vote of no confidence does not succeed?

Article taken directly from and read more at:


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