'Can Zuma be impeached?' Indonesian MPs ask Parly committee

2016-08-26 15:27
President Jacob Zuma. (AFP)

President Jacob Zuma. (AFP)

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Cape Town – A delegation of Indonesian MPs visiting Parliament on Friday asked the Constitutional Review Committee if South Africa's president can be impeached.

The Indonesian MPs were visiting guests of the committee this week, having asked earlier this month to sit in on a meeting to observe its processes.

During the meeting, the topic of the Constitutional Court's ruling that Zuma ignored the Public Protector's findings that he pay back a portion of the money spent on upgrading his Nkandla homestead, came up.

Speaking through an interpreter, one visiting MP wanted to know if there were any provisions in South Africa's constitution to remove a president.

Following a brief awkward moment from the committee, ACDP MP Steve Swart broke the silence.

"Yes, by law he can be, and the provisions are made for in the Constitution," he said.

Pointing to chapter 5, Swart said that in order for the president to be impeached, Parliament will need a supporting vote of 66.67% of the National Assembly.

The reasons for a removal must either be:
1. A serious violation of the Constitution or law;
2. Serious misconduct;
3. Inability to perform functions of office.

"There is also a motion of no confidence," Swart continued, "that requires a 50% + 1 pass in the National Assembly.

"The president has to resign if that motion is passed," he said.

None of the other nine South African MPs present chose to add any further information.

After a brief pause, the Indonesian delegate moved on to ask other questions about South Africa's constitutional democracy.

The ANC currently holds a 62% majority in the National Assembly.

A delegation of Indonesian MPs
A delegation of Indonesian MPs visit Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee in Cape Town. (Paul Herman/News24)

Public submissions 

The Constitutional Review Committee met on Friday to formally adopt its decisions on the 2013 legacy submissions.

The legacy submissions were suggestions made by the public in 2013 to amend the Constitution in certain areas, but had not been dealt with during the previous Parliament.

Two issues around language had been submitted during the 2013 review.

The Holy Faith Mission Evangelical Church argued for the inclusion of Khilovedu as an official South African language, saying it was an independent language used by a tribe which settled in the country in the 1600s.

The Deaf Federation of SA too wanted South African Sign Language to become the country's 12th official language.

The committee agreed that both matters deserved consideration, and will be considered in depth with the 2015 public submissions, which are due to be discussed for the first time next month.

Another issue involved the establishment of an anti-corruption commission as a Chapter 9 Institution.

It was made by the Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa, which wanted it to have similar legal standing as the Public Protector.

MPs agreed that such a big issue warranted deeper discussions, and a decision couldn't be made in one sitting. It would be discussed with other submissions to be heard in September and in 2017.

The committee, having formally adopted the way forward for the 2013 legacy submissions, will meet in September to open discussions on the 2015 submissions.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  cape town  |  politics  |  parliament 2016

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