The EFF is looking forward to its date with “constitutional delinquent” President Jacob Zuma after Friday’s court order that the National Assembly develop rules to hold him to account, which could pave the way for impeachment.
“We look forward to the National Assembly reconvening very soon to actually develop the necessary rules and hold the president accountable,” Economic Freedom Fighters general secretary Godrich Gardee said in response to the Constitutional Court’s majority judgment on the issue.
“The constitutional delinquent, Mr Zuma, in no time will be scrutinised, will be brought before Parliament to be [held]accountable, because his own political party has actually failed to hold him accountable, and we can’t wait [another]day longer,” said Gardee.
“We need to be in Parliament in no less than 30 days before the State of the Nation Address of 2018,” he said, speaking outside the Constitutional Court.
The State of the Nation Address is scheduled for February 8, 2018 and the ANC, which is the majority party in Parliament, has said it would discuss the judgment on January 10 during a meeting of its national executive committee.
Zuma was replaced as the party’s leader when Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected ANC president at the party’s 54th national conference earlier in December.
The EFF envisages a format for impeachment which includes Zuma giving evidence at an inquiry akin to the long-running SABC hearings, and that witnesses also be called.
However, Gardee expressed concern over Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s apparent “irritation” during the sitting on Friday, and his call for his own minority judgment to be read into the record in full.
We consider that as an abuse of power,” Gardee said.
Mogoeng expressed concern over the “judicial overreach” of the majority judgment, saying it encroached on the separation of powers.
The EFF, the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and the Congress of the People (Cope) applied to the Constitutional Court for relief on the grounds that the National Assembly had failed to hold Zuma to account over a previous Constitutional Court judgment.
That previous judgment found that Zuma failed to uphold the Constitution with regards to the Public Protector’s remedial actions for the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.
Several motions of no confidence in the president have failed in Parliament and most of the opposition parties believe that impeachment is the only way to remove Zuma. To do this, the National Assembly must set in motion certain procedures.
The capture of Parliament
DA leader Mmusi Maimane said in a statement the majority judgment was a “consequence of the ANC capturing Parliament and turning it into a lapdog of the Executive for the sole purpose of consistently protecting Zuma and his corrupt acolytes at all costs”.
“Parliament must earnestly apply itself to the question of whether Baleka Mbete is still fit to hold office as Speaker of the National Assembly in light of the damning judgments against her,” he said.
“It is now the task of Parliament to ensure that the rules governing impeachment do not fall victim to another farcical ANC process in which majoritarian tactics are used to bully the Rules Committee into devising rules designed to absolve Jacob Zuma.
“The rules devised by the Rules Committee must be constitutionally compliant and the process must be imbued with constitutionality. Accordingly, we request that the Speaker comply with the order of the highest court in South Africa and do the honourable thing – accede to our requests and set Parliament back on course to fulfill its constitutional mandate.”
‘Something to celebrate’
Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota explained after the judgment, that the court had already handed down previous judgments, recording that Zuma had violated the Constitution and that he had broken his oath of office over the handling of the Nkandla issue.
“But simultaneous with that, the Constitutional Court has also found that the National Assembly itself, which is dominated by the ANC, had already broken oath of office,” Lekota added.
“What we have achieved today has been to expose the fact that the National Assembly, led by the Speaker, tried to collaborate with President Zuma by hiding and protecting him,” he commented.
“Now the court has found that they failed in their duty, they broke their oath of office for the second time because they should have developed the procedure urgently thereafter to enable us to hold the president accountable.
“By protecting him they have showed themselves to have failed the mandate of the people.”
Read: What the impeachment ruling means for Zuma and Parliament
“Now they have been instructed to go and develop the procedure to hold the president accountable by way of an impeachment procedure.
“That makes it impossible for anybody who will become Speaker or occupy those offices in future to continue to toy with the mandate the people give to Parliament to hold anyone, who behaves like a scoundrel, from being held accountable.
“This is something to celebrate.”
The UDM stated on its Facebook page: “Strengthened by today’s Constitutional Court ruling, our urgent and continuing battle to have Mr Zuma removed will be accelerated.”
“The United Democratic Movement, in tandem with any and all parties unified by an honest desire for the very best for our country, will redouble its efforts to rid government of the single most destructive occupation since our hard-fought freedom, and perhaps, even ever.”
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), noted the judgment as another “blow” to Zuma, and said it hoped that the order would be carried out quickly.
“…Once again, the courts have been called to force elected officials to do their duty. We can only hope that this judgment will be implemented very soon,” Ben Theron, OUTA Chief Operating Officer, said.
Zuma cannot be singled out as the only culprit
The SA Federation of Trade Unions said that following the ruling, the ANC had to “act decisively” against Zuma and remove him as president of the country.
“Saftu, however, warns that Zuma must not be singled out as the only culprit in these matters. All the other public officials, state-owned enterprise executives and their accomplices in the private sector who have been implicated in the Gupta emails, Jacques Pauw’s book [The President’s Keepers] and elsewhere must face the might of the law.
“The promised independent inquiry into the former Public protector’s ‘State of Capture’ report must proceed without delay and be given the mandate, resources and terms of reference to investigate not only that report but all the other allegations of corruption, fraud, money-laundering and other crimes, which are continually being exposed.”
Saftu said it would join civil society organisation and political parties outside the gates of Parliament when Zuma delivers his State of the Nation Address, to demand that he be dismissed as leader, and brought before the courts.