PARLIAMENT – President Jacob Zuma’s violation of the Constitution with regards to the Nkandla debacle was not serious enough to warrant removal from office, ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said on Wednesday.
Addressing journalists during a media briefing, Mthembu said a motion brought by the Democratic Alliance in the National Assembly on Tuesday for Zuma’s impeachment in terms of Section 89 of the Constitution was without foundation.
“Whilst the Concourt found that the President has acted inconsistently with the Constitution, however the violation is not as provided for in the Constitution’s Section 89 (1) (a), which stresses ‘serious’ violation of the Constitution and warrants that the president be removed,” Mthembu said.
“The distinction in terms of the degree of constitutional violation is important. The Concourt itself found that although the President acted inconsistently with the Constitution, such was not done deliberately or maliciously as he ‘might have been following wrong legal advice and therefore action in good faith.”
Mthembu went on to cite examples of when former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki were found to have acted unconstitutionally, but their offences did not warrant dismissal.
He suggested the ANC could only act if the Constitutional Court directed it to do so.
“The orders of the court never directed us towards this interrogation…into the suitability of the president to hold office. Had they done so…the ANC itself would have dealt with this matter differently had the court directed us in the manner we are saying section 89 implores us to do.”
Mthembu said because the ruling party believed there was no legal basis for impeachment, ANC MPs had no choice but to back Zuma.
“Some have called us sycophants – people who do things without even reasoning. We felt we must face you because indeed we were convinced and are still convinced that we voted correctly, that we couldn’t have voted otherwise.”
Zuma survived the impeachment motion after the ANC used its majority to vote it down on Tuesday afternoon in a heated, often acrimonious debate.
African News Agency