Zuma Faces Fresh Attacks From South African Opposition Parties

JOHANNESBURG (Capital Markets in Africa) – South African opposition parties resumed their offensive against President Jacob Zuma after failing to remove him through a motion of no confidence in parliament, urging the nation’s top court to force the legislature to discipline him for failing to uphold the constitution.

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday began hearing a lawsuit brought by the main opposition parties to order the parliamentary speaker to convene a committee to investigate whether Zuma’s refusal to comply with a directive by the nation’s graft ombudsman to repay taxpayer funds spent on his private home warranted possible impeachment. The court ruled last year that Zuma’s action breached his oath of office.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng expressed “discomfort” about the opposition’s request.

“There are three arms of the state and we each have a role to play in making our constitutional democracy function and function well,” Mogoeng said at the hearing in Johannesburg. “I just want to make sure that this court doesn’t get to the point where it takes over responsibility of the National Assembly, to the point of saying: ‘Establish this kind of an investigative structure and these are the terms of reference.’”

Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, a lawyer for the Economic Freedom Fighters party, said Zuma knowingly allowed public funds to be used for his personal benefit and that the court was merely being asked to give effect to the rule of law.

Hold Accountable
“The duty to hold the executive accountable lies with the National Assembly,” he told the court. “It is inappropriate for the National Assembly to in effect push that duty aside. A thorough examination of the president’s conduct has not been done by the National Assembly. There really is no reason why the court cannot grant the order that we seek.”

Lawyers acting for Baleka Mbete, the speaker of the National Assembly, are due to testify later on Tuesday.

Zuma has been embroiled in a series of scandals since taking office in May 2009, and his leadership has divided the ANC and eroded its support. While the ruling African National Congress used its 62 percent majority in parliament to defeat motion of no confidence in the president on Aug. 8, more than two dozen of its lawmakers voted with the opposition.

The Democratic Alliance, the main opposition party, has filed a motion in the National Assembly calling for early elections. Its proposal, due to be debated later Tuesday, doesn’t have backing from any other parties and is likely to fail.

Source: Bloomberg Business News


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