While the debate on the position of the Speaker was on the Order list at a sitting of the Limpopo Legislature for Tuesday Merriam Ramadwa tendered her resignation with immediate effect in a letter to the acting Secretary of the Legislature.
She will remain an ordinary member of the legislature.
In a press release the Spokesperson for the Legislature, Andries Lekalakala said there now exists a vacancy for the Speaker and in terms of the Constitution read with the standing rules and orders of the Limpopo Legislature, the acting Secretary will immediately notify the Judge President to designate a judge to preside over the sitting to elect a new Speaker.
Ramadwa has since May put up a brave fight as she refused to budge to African National Council (ANC) pressure to resign from the position to make place for the new Speaker designate, Polly Boshielo.
The ANC in Limpopo then took a decision to temporarily suspend the membership of Ramadwa as a member of the ANC pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing. The notice of suspension was served on Ramadwa on 15 August 2015.
The implications of the suspension were that her ANC membership was temporary suspended and she could not act as a member, including at a branch, nor represent the ANC in any capacity including as a public representative. The reasons for her suspension were cited to be failure/refusal to work with the deployees of the ANC in the Legislature, placing the ANC in Limpopo in disrepute and gross insubordination to the ANC’s structures in the province.
An interdict from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) against the Legislature to stop the process of ousting her as Speaker of the House followed after a motion was tabled in the Legislature, and was based on the allegation that deputy speaker, Lehlogonolo Masoga, did not follow the Rules of the Legislature when tabling the motion to remove Ramadwa from the position. This was disputed in court by the Legislature who won their case last week.
Michael Mathebe, leader of the EFF said Ramadwa was doing her job properly and did not take sides. “Maybe that was why she was ousted,” he said.”We are ready for the new one, we are not scared. If she brings trouble, we will deal with her.”
Jacques Smalle, Democratic Alliance leader said the decision to take a motion of no-confidence should never be taken lightly.
“The ANC’s inability to bring to light a report on how the Legislature performed or under-performed, clearly illustrates a divided caucus.”
He said the Speaker represents the House and is not responsible to the executive government and must at all times seek the integrity and independence of the House.
“She held office with dignity and gave all parties time to speak and allowed for the freedom of speech. The ANC leadership may be looking for one to limit these expressions of the past and the work ethics. Nobody else wanted to remove her.”
According to Falaza Mdaka, ANC Chief Whip in the Legislature, the new Speaker will be formally elected and sworn in once a judge has been secured to preside over the Legislature’s sitting. The last sitting of the Legislature took place on Tuesday, and the house will be in recess until 30 October. Mdaka on Wednesday said a special sitting may be convened should a judge become available in the mean time.
Story: NELIE ERASMUS
Featured photo: Merriam Ramadwa, former Speaker of the Limpopo Legislature.