South African opposition party COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota reacts outside the Constitutional Court of South Africa after judgment proceedings on the application to allow a secret ballot in Parliament in Johannesburg on June 22, 2017.
JOHANNESBURG – The Secret Ballot (or #SecretBallot) ruling has come and gone but the reaction from politicians are only now filtering through social media.
To clarify, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has ruled that Parliament Speaker Baleka Mbete does in fact have power to declare a secret ballot during the motion of no confidence against President Zuma. Previously she cited the law as a limiting factor.
For some, this is a clear win for South Africa's justice system, but it also now puts emphasis on Mbete, she can now declare a secret ballot, or choose not to.
As for South Africa's other politicians, the ruling was a victory, a contentious issue, and a reason to engage in a little subtweeting.
Julius Malema vs Fikile Mbalula: the subtweet saga
South Africans must guard separation of powers jealously. Mogoeng took the right steps today.We welcome this #SecrerBallot ruling,absolutely— RSA Police Minister (@MbalulaFikile) June 22, 2017
As for the latter, we're talking about EFF leader Julius Malema and current police minister Fikile Mbalula's tweets.
#SecrerBallot ruling teaches Opposition must convince the ANC inside parliament & not run to courts over politics.... why they lost today— RSA Police Minister (@MbalulaFikile) June 22, 2017
Mbalula, who has never been shy to smash that tweet button, welcomed the ruling but also threw shade on opposition parties.
Malema wasn't having it.
If you think you won, why do you sound so disgruntled. The whole minister left his duties to justify that Parliment won a case— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) June 22, 2017
"South Africans must guard separation of powers jealously. Mogoeng took the right steps today.We welcome this #SecrerBallot ruling,absolutely [sic]," he tweeted.
One thing I know is that this Minister did not read the court papers and will not read this judgment but he's busy tweeting about it, hai— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) June 22, 2017
#SecretBallot ruling is helpful as is, some disgruntled opposition members are calling us - they'll vote with ANC Collective on key matters.— RSA Police Minister (@MbalulaFikile) June 22, 2017
As did Malema.
Your drinking mate Baleka said she doesn't have discretion to grant secrete ballot. We said she does & the court agreed with us Minister— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) June 22, 2017
But Mbalula had the final word.
I don't know where drinking fits in. Last time I checked you were my drinking partner. Some amongst us wanted the Speaker to be forced.— RSA Police Minister (@MbalulaFikile) June 22, 2017
Campaigning, victory speeches and even less confidence
Other politicians refrained from subtweeting and took to campaigning instead, like DA leader Mmusi Maimane. "My vote is not #secret. Zuma must go," he tweets, ending the line with #change19.
The EFF members were seemingly in full voice on Twitter. Floyd Shivambu praised Justice Mogoeng's ruling, stating that "Superior Logic always triumphs!"
Superior Logic always triumphs!— Floyd Shivambu (@FloydShivambu) June 22, 2017
The Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula welcomed the ruling. The party's spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi suggested that the decision calls to question Mbete's "capacity as speaker".
That ConCourt had to correct Mbete's wrong decision again is a statement of no confidence in her capacity as Speaker #SecretBallot— IG: @MbuyiseniNdlozi (@MbuyiseniNdlozi) June 22, 2017
The UDM's president Bantu Holomisa took to Facebook with a longer statement. He suggests that the UDM "has been vindicated with the Constitutional Court’s ruling that the Speaker of the National Assembly could facilitate a secret ballot in a no-confidence motion in President Zuma." "We thank our legal team, as well as political parties and civil society organisations who supported us all the way," he adds.
The DA's chief whip John Steenhuizen, like Ndlozi, also called into question Mbete's competence as Speaker of Parliament.
Once again the Speaker being schooled by the Concourt in how to do her job. When does it start getting embarrassing???— John Steenhuisen MP (@jsteenhuisen) June 22, 2017
The ANC and DA respond And as for parties' responses, the ANC's official Twitter account led the charge with a fiercely worded tweet in all-caps. "#ANC WELCOMES CONCOURT’S REFUSAL TO BE ABUSED BY OPPOSITON PARTIES WANTING TO CO-GOVERN WITH NO POPULAR MANDATE," it writes.
Finally, the DA reiterated the message of its leader Maimane.