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Judgment reserved in Zuma impeachment case

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Constitutional Court has reserved judgment in an application brought by the Economic Freedom Front and other opposition parties trying to have President Jacob Zuma impeached.

The Democratic Alliance, Economic Freedom Front, Congress of the People and the United Democratic Movement want the court to order National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to take disciplinary steps against Zuma following the court’s ruling in March last year that he had failed to uphold the Constitution by not implementing remedial actions of the public protector in the Nkandla saga.

Opposition parties faced a barrage of questions from the justices during arguments that lasted for about eight hours.

The opposition parties told the court that they wanted the establishment of a fact-finding ad hoc committee that would force Zuma to answer questions about his conduct during the Nkandla debacle.

Advocate Thembela Ngcukaitobi representing the EFF elaborated:

“What we proposed in our heads of arguments is certain basic features of this committee. The one is that its job is to establish a fact finding inquiry, the second is to also have the president to explain himself and then the third, most importantly is cross examination. We are not fixated about whether one calls this a trial like process or not because it ultimately oversees through the political branch of government. They themselves say we have the powers of subpoena, and we have set out the features of these committees and the essential features are natural justice and the duty to cross examine and a proper fact finding inquiry. If those features are set out in the judgment of this court, that will satisfy the constitutional obligation because we are not saying the president must be taken to court, the president should be accounting to parliament.”

However, Ngwako Maenetje, who represented National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, argued that the National Assembly did take some form of action following the judgment:

“There is no mechanism which the constitution makes exclusive for particular conduct. All the mechanisms can be applied to respond to a particular conduct in order to hold the president to account, and there is a range and all the constitution requires is that the national assembly must take steps. I take to the court where the speaker says the steps were taken by the national assembly. When they talk of the national assembly they say all that the national assembly did was to facilitate question and answer sessions and respond to requests for motions and so on, but when the national assembly is facilitating those things it is taking action, it is the assembly because the assembly comprises of all of these members in the national assembly.”

Advocate Dali Mpofu, who represented the UDM and Cope, questioned whether mechanisms used thus far to hold the President to account were sufficient.

“The real question is have effective mechanisms been put ? and effective is the function of the doer and also the outcome. In other words even if in another theoretical world Q and A could do the trick, if in this case it has not, then as this court said then there comes a time when you have to elevate it to another mechanism.”

Meanwhile Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo says it appears there had been poor communication between the parties in resolving the matter using rules of parliament.

Judgment has been reserved.

[Source: SABC]
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