President Jacob Zuma gestures as he addresses the parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, November 2, 2017.
JOHANNESBURG – Opposition political parties welcomed Friday’s Constitutional Court ruling that Parliament failed to hold President Jacob Zuma accountable over the Nkandla matter.
In a majority judgment, the Court said the National Assembly should comply with section 237 of the Constitution and fulfill its obligation in determining whether the president had breached section 89 (Impeachment grounds) without delay.
In September, the Constitutional Court reserved judgment on an application brought by the EFF, UDM and Cope against the National Assembly Speaker and Zuma.
The parties wanted the Court to compel Speaker Baleka Mbete to initiate impeachment proceedings against Zuma.
In their arguments, the applicants relied on the Constitutional Court ruling on the Nkandla matter, in which it was found that Zuma failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution.
Mbete denies that she or the National Assembly failed to carry out their constitutional obligations to hold the president to account.
The EFF’s Godrich Gardee said he looked forward to the National Assembly reconvening soon to hold the president accountable, saying “he [Zuma] must come and give evidence”.
“The constitutional delinquent, Mr Zuma, in no time will be scrutinised, will be brought before Parliament to be accountable because his own political party has failed to hold him accountable.
“We need to be in Parliament in no less than 30 days before the state of the nation address,” Gardee said.
The UDM’s Bantu Holomisa called for swift action.
“What we should expect now is for the speaker and rules committee to familiarise themselves with the judgment and start the process of unpacking the meaning of the word ‘impeachment’ as contained in our Constitution.
“What’s clear is that we failed to produce rules and regulations in line with the impeachment processes. We’ve been given the opportunity to go back and do the work,” he said.
Cope’s Mosioua Lekota said he was thrilled that “we have exposed the tricks that the ANC was trying to play, by way of having the speaker and the National Assembly to collaborate with the president that’s already broke his oath of office”.
He said the judgment means that in future, “nobody, but nobody can abuse power at will and protect each other while violating the law of the land”.
The ANC issued a statement shortly after the judgment saying it had taken note of the ruling and would discuss its full implications when its National Executive Committee meets on 10 January 2018.