Opposition parties have failed to have Jacob Zuma impeached, following a Constitutional Court ruling that he had failed to uphold his constitutional obligations president.
The National Assembly on Tuesday debated a motion tabled by the Democratic Alliance to have President Jacob Zuma removed from office.
The motion was tabled in the wake of a Constitutional Court ruling that Zuma had violated the constitution by disregarding a Public Protector report into the undue benefit he and his family gained through upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.
In the matter, Zuma failed to get a court to rule on the Public Protector’s report before dismissing it. The ConCourt also ruled that the National Assembly itself was also in violation of its constitutional obligations by not holding the executive to account.
Following the ruling, Zuma apologised to the nation in an address, saying that it was never his intention to go against the land’s top laws. His apology was accepted by the ANC, which subsequently pledged full support behind Zuma in any attempt to get him fired.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said that the calls for Zuma to resign over the Constitutional Court ruling were disproportionate to the words of judge Mogoeng Mogoeng’s ruling.
He said that people were making noise in the media, and warned that the ANC had to put up a united front ahead of the 2016 Municipal Elections, and would not allow opposition parties to “tear the ANC apart” with its motions.
Beyond the opposition parties’ calls for Zuma to step down, some ANC stalwarts also called for Zuma to be removed.
These include Trevor Manuel, Ahmed Kathrada, SA National Defence Union (Sandu) members as well as some ANC Gauteng members.
Debate over Zuma’s impeachment was opened by DA leader Mmusi Maimane, who said that the motion was put forward – knowing that the ANC would fall in line behind Zuma – because it was the duty of MPs to uphold the constitution.
The DA leader focused his address on how corruption had become a cancer in ANC, where every ANC member was complicit, and that “Zuma wasn’t the cause, but he is the biggest symptom”.
“When the votes are made later, you will claim victory – but in actual fact, when you win, you lose,” Maimane said.
“Today, the ANC will choose Zuma – but afterwards it is up to the voters of South Africa to vote for something else.”
ANC deputy justice minister John Jefferey rebutted the motion by the DA, arguing that the Constitutional Court did not find any “serious” misconduct by the president, which made the entire motion moot.
In response to the defence, Julius Malema for the EFF said the ANC was repeating its past mistakes by second guessing the Constitutional Court ruling, and trying to argue around the matter.
“The (Constitutional) Court has made it clear who messed up – and now you want us to continue, business as usual.”
Malema said that no one has been held to account for the court ruling. He appealed to the ANC to listen to “real generals” of the ANC, and not “cooks”, to vote against corruption.
Subsequent addresses from other minority parties all spoke in support of impeaching the president, including a re-reading of the ANC’s statement from 2008, in which former President Thabo Mbeki was recalled “to move South Africa forward”.
The United Democratic Movement called for the president to be recalled, Parliament dissolved, and for general elections to be held within the next 18 months.
The motion failed to pass, with 143 voting in favour of impeachment, and 233 voting against impeachment with no members abstaining.
The motion needed 66% of the vote, and only managed to capture 38%.
DA leader, Maimane called the result a disappointment, saying that the National Assembly had simply made the same mistake yet again.
The DA and the EFF walked out of Parliament.