JOHANNESBURG. – The South African Parliament noted the Constitutional Court’s majority ruling yesterday, which found that the National Assembly had failed to hold President Jacob Zuma to account, and said it would comply with the decision.
The ruling stated that the National Assembly failed to make rules surrounding the removal of the president and that it had to attend to this as well as hold the president to account “without delay”.
The application was brought by the EFF, the UDM and COPE against the Speaker of the National Assembly, and it sought an order compelling the House to carry out its Constitutional functions and scrutinise Zuma’s conduct.
This was in relation to a previous ruling by the court that found President Zuma failed to uphold the Constitution with regards to the Public Protector’s remedial actions for the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.
The “impeachment” application was in court in September, where opposition parties argued that the court should order Parliament to establish a fact-finding ad hoc committee that would force President Zuma to answer questions about his conduct during the Nkandla scandal.
The opposition parties sought a declaratory order that the National Assembly’s inaction in the face of President Zuma’s violations of the Constitution was unconstitutional. They also sought an order compelling Speaker Baleka Mbete to take the necessary and appropriate steps to determine the seriousness of the president’s violations.
Parliament said yesterday that the Constitutional Court, “neither declared that the Speaker failed to hold the president accountable, nor ordered her to establish an impeachment committee of the type described by the applicants”.
“In this regard, the Court has held the National Assembly collectively responsible for not meaningfully implementing section 89 of the Constitution,” it said.
That section deals with the removal of the president.
“The court has thus ordered that the Rules of the Assembly be amended without delay to comply with section 237 of the Constitution, which instructs that all Constitutional obligations be performed diligently and without delay.”
Parliament said the National Assembly rules committee has already initiated a process to outline a procedure to be followed in implementing section 89 of the Constitution.
“In this regard, Parliament will ensure finalisation of the Assembly’s rules, in line with the court’s order.”
Parliament, however, also noted the minority judgment by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, in which he strongly disagreed with the majority judgment, saying the ruling was judicial overreach and impacted on the separation of powers.
“We note and agree with the strong reservation and caution underscored by both the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice in the minority judgment, regarding encroachment of the judiciary into the internal functioning of the national legislature. Parliament, however, respects the majority judgment and will comply fully with it.” - News24