Cru­cial court rul­ing on JZ

The New Age (Gauteng) - - FRONT PAGE - CE­CILIA RUS­SEL, REFILWE MAGASHULE AND KUTULLO MADISHA news@the­newage.co.za

TO­DAY’S rul­ing by the Con­sti­tu­tional Court on whether Par­lia­ment should be com­pelled to ini­ti­ate im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings against Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma may help newly elected ANC pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa’s and his party to deal with the two cen­tres of power co­nun­drum.

The clam­our for Zuma’s re­moval has grown since Ramaphosa’s elec­tion at the ANC’s 54th na­tional con­fer­ence re­cently, with the new ANC boss un­der pres­sure to act against the pres­i­dent. On the other hand Zuma con­tin­ues to en­joy sup­port by el­e­ments in his party who are un­likely to take kindly to any ac­tion against their leader.

The Con­sti­tu­tional Court re­served judg­ment on the mat­ter in Septem­ber af­ter op­po­si­tion par­ties sub­mit­ted an ap­pli­ca­tion call­ing on the court to force Par­lia­ment’s hand in the wake of a rul­ing that Zuma failed to up­hold the Con­sti­tu­tion for not abid­ing by the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s find­ing that he re­pay some of the pub­lic money spent on his sprawl­ing ru­ral home.

Eric Mabuza, the in­struct­ing at­tor­ney for op­po­si­tion par­ties EFF, UDM and Cope, said they were op­ti­mistic the ConCourt would rule in their favour. Mabuza said the court would have to rule firstly on whether the con­duct of the pres­i­dent was im­peach­able.

“The other thing will be to in­struct Par­lia­ment to set up an im­peach­ment process where the pres­i­dent will be given an op­por­tu­nity to an­swer the al­le­ga­tions against him and once the im­peach­ment process con­cludes they will ei­ther find him guilty or not. If they find him guilty Par­lia­ment will then have to vote on it,” he said.

Some an­a­lysts be­lieve the ConCourt would be loath to dic­tate to Par­lia­ment on the mat­ter. Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Prof Sipho Seepe warned that the ConCourt should not un­der­mine the Con­sti­tu­tion.

“I do not un­der­stand why the op­po­si­tion par­ties ap­proached the ConCourt as the Na­tional Assem­bly still holds the power (on) whether Zuma would be im­peached,” Seepe said.

The case brought by the EFF is far from an open and shut case.

The ConCourt has al­ready ruled that Zuma failed to up­hold and de­fend the Con­sti­tu­tion and his oath of of­fice by re­fus­ing to com­ply with for­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s re­me­dial ac­tion.

The ConCourt also ruled on var­i­ous cour­ses of ac­tion for Zuma in­clud­ing per­son­ally pay­ing back his por­tion of the up­grades that did not re­late to se­cu­rity im­prove­ments, ad­mon­ish­ing the min­is­ters in­volved and award­ing costs.

In an­other judg­ment, how­ever, the ConCourt left it up to Par­lia­ment and, more par­tic­u­larly the speaker, to de­cide whether a vote in Par­lia­ment should be by se­cret bal­lot.

In a cli­mate where judges have been ac­cused of ju­di­cial over­reach, the ques­tion­ing by chief jus­tice Mo­go­eng Mo­go­eng, among oth­ers, dur­ing the hear­ing in Septem­ber sug­gests that the ques­tion of the sepa­ra­tion of pow­ers was up­per­most in their minds.

The EFF had ar­gued that Mbete failed to put in place mech­a­nisms to hold Zuma ac­count­able. It ar­gued that she did not con­vene a com­mit­tee or other in­de­pen­dent body to probe the pres­i­dent’s be­hav­iour in vi­o­la­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Jus­tice Mo­go­eng led the ques­tion­ing of the coun­sel for the EFF and oth­ers ex­press­ing “dis­quiet” on mak­ing de­ci­sions for Par­lia­ment, ask­ing whether the op­po­si­tion par­ties had ex­plored all pos­si­ble av­enues be­fore go­ing to court and whether their whole case, based on the speaker’s so-called in­ac­tion, was mis­placed be­cause it was the Na­tional Assem­bly as a whole that held the ex­ec­u­tive to ac­count and not just Baleka Mbete.

Pres­i­dent Zuma

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