ConCourt expected to hand down judgment on Zuma impeachment case

Johannesburg – The Constitutional Court is expected to hand down judgment on Friday in the case brought by the EFF, UDM and COPE against the Speaker of the National Assembly to compel the House to carry out its constitutional functions and scrutinise President Jacob Zuma's conduct.

The application was argued in court in September after the opposition parties argued that the court should order Parliament to establish a fact-finding ad hoc committee that would force Zuma to answer questions about his conduct during the Nkandla scandal.

The opposition parties are seeking a declaratory order that the National Assembly's inaction in the face of Zuma's violations of the Constitution was unconstitutional. They also want an order which would compel Speaker Baleka Mbete to take the necessary and appropriate steps to determine the seriousness of the president's violations.

During arguments, the parties argued that there was no doubt that there was prima facie evidence for impeachment proceedings to be instituted against Zuma.

However, Hamilton Maenetje, representing Mbete, said the Speaker's office would be acting inconsistently were it to remove Zuma.

"Because the Speaker plays the role of a referee, it would be inconsistent with her office to initiate the removal of Zuma," Maenetje said at the time.

'Inconsistent with separation of powers'

Maenetje admitted to the court that he personally accepted that Zuma had violated the Constitution.

"As a lawyer, the conduct is a serious violation," he said.

However, he asked the court not to declare failure to fulfil constitutional obligation on Mbete's part.

"Our submission is that judgment rests with National Assembly. [It] would be inconsistent with separation of powers."

Advocate Dali Mpofu, representing the UDM and COPE, said he believed that a fact-finding inquiry would force Zuma to account for his actions.

"In an inquiry nobody is going to ask you to sit down or raise a point of order," he said during arguments in September.

Mpofu said the inquiry would be an opportunity for Zuma to answer questions.

"Nobody is going to tell you that that question had been answered. Nobody is going to switch off the mic. We are coming to the court to say the correct process is that there must be an inquiry," he said.

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