The ugly turn of event is quite disturbing. This comes after the United Democratic Movement’s (UDM) Bantu Holomisa threw a spanner in the works after asking the Constitutional Court to consider his application to rule whether the motion could be decided by a secret vote.

The court has asked all parties intending to oppose his application to file responding papers by no later than next Friday‚ April 21. This has led to calls for the no confidence vote‚ scheduled for Tuesday‚ April 18‚ to be postponed until the court has pronounced on the matter.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and DA leader Mmusi Maimane‚ who has proposed the motion‚ were engaged in a day long toing-and-froing match over the issue on Wednesday with neither side prepared to relent.

Mbete insisted that the rules of the national assembly did not give her the authority to withdraw the motion while Maimane and his chief whip John Steenhuissen repeatedly emphasised that they were not asking for a withdrawal but rather a postponement.

Mbete could once more be subjected to intense criticism from within and outside the African National Congress (ANC) if she forges ahead with next week’s vote as doing so could be seen as her way of protecting Zuma in the absence of clarity on the secret ballot by the court.

Withdrawing it‚ on the other hand‚ would have cost implications for the legislature as flights have already been booked for close to 400 MPs after they were recalled from their Easter break.

Steenhuisen said “no one wants to withdraw the motion”. “We are simply asking that it be rescheduled‚” he said. Mbete had the power to do so in terms of rule 129‚ he added.