Parliament has a duty to hold Zuma accountable – law expert

2016-04-14 11:47
National Speaker Baleka Mbete (File, Netwerk24)

National Speaker Baleka Mbete (File, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town – It is well within Parliament’s rights to take disciplinary action against the president should he be found to have breached the Constitution in some way.

This was the response of constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos to a statement from National Speaker Baleka Mbete that Parliament was considering if it was within its rights to subject President Jacob Zuma to disciplinary action.

The Economic Freedom Fighters had written to the Speaker asking for disciplinary action against Zuma following the ConCourt ruling which stated that he had failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution by not complying with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's remedial action regarding payment for the non-security upgrades to his private Nkandla home.

"That letter [from the EFF] arrived in the past 24 hours, so all of that will be under consideration. Precisely whether it is the place of the National Assembly to discipline someone who is not a member [Zuma, as President, is not a Member of Parliament]," Mbete said on Wednesday.

"These are all the issues we are applying our minds on," she said.

- Read more: Mbete still considering EFF request for Parliament to discipline Zuma

But De Vos states the ConCourt judgment made it “crystal clear”: It is Parliament’s duty to hold the executive accountable.

“So [Mbete’s] statement is nonsense,” De Vos wrote in a tweet.

In fact, the National Assembly can decide how Zuma should be held accountable, it can censure him, issue a critical report or remove him from office, De Vos said in response to a tweeter.

EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu said on Wednesday that they had not received a timeline on when the speaker would finish "considering their request", but would await the outcome.

"But if it is not satisfactory, we will take it to the next level."

Shivambu said it was basic logic that Zuma had to be subjected to a disciplinary process by Parliament.

"We believe in the principle that everyone is equal before the law. If a president violates the Constitution, there must be action against them."

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen was less enthusiastic and said they had a long way to go regarding the disciplinary action.

"Remember, the president is not subject to the discipline of Parliament, he is not a Member of Parliament and therefore the ethics code does not apply to him."

Read more on:    anc  |  eff  |  pierre de vos  |  jacob zuma  |  baleka mbete  |  floyd ­shivambu  |  parliament 2016  |  nkandla upgrade

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