If Zuma goes, so must Parliament - opposition's rationale

Cape Town - Parliament must be dissolved because it was also complicit in President Jacob Zuma's failure to uphold the Constitution, opposition parties have argued.

Opposition parties on Monday upped the pressure on the ANC by calling for Parliament's dissolution if Zuma is removed through a scheduled EFF motion of no confidence.

The seven parties agreed that they will ask National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to urgently move the EFF's motion, scheduled for February 22, up to this week.

They comprise the DA, EFF, ACDP, FFP, UDM, IFP, PAC and COPE.

"Everyone in South Africa has called for the removal of Jacob Zuma," DA leader Mmusi Maimane said at a press briefing in Parliament.

"In the context of that, we can't be spectators to the ANC's internal factions. Let us go to Parliament and remove Zuma."

The plan, therefore, is to debate the EFF's motion as soon as possible, and, if successful, table a second motion calling for Parliament's dissolution.

The EFF's strategic tabling of its motion ensures it will be the first of its nature to be debated on the subject, and would have a chance of passing if the ANC's national executive committee orders Zuma to be recalled.

'ConCourt ruled against Parliament too'

The parties argue that, were the ANC to vote with the opposition on the EFF's motion, they would be agreeing to the same reasons for Zuma's removal.

Those reasons in the motion are that Zuma failed to uphold the Constitution during the Nkandla debacle, as ruled by the Constitutional Court in 2016.

Parliament was also implicated in that judgment, for failing to hold the president to account on the matter.

If the ANC agrees to remove Zuma on those grounds, it must therefore also dissolve Parliament for the same reasons.

"Even though we as opposition parties have taken a stand… we've been defeated. We're part of a Parliament that has taken wrong decisions," said EFF leader Julius Malema.

"The problem is not Zuma, the problem is not [ANC president] Cyril [Ramaphosa], the problem is the ANC. The ANC must be voted out."

Malema said they would not withdraw their motion of no confidence in favour of an ANC-sponsored one.

The ANC caucus could choose to amend the EFF's motion on the day though, to take out the explicit reasons for Zuma's removal.

Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli on Monday said Parliament was "consulting" on the request to move the date to this week.

New president within 30 days

The dissolution motion is unlikely to take place on the same day as a motion of no confidence, however.

Section 50 of the Constitution states that only the president can dissolve Parliament after a resolution is passed in the National Assembly, and after three years of that Parliament's election.

In the event of a vacancy in the presidency, an acting president must dissolve Parliament if a new president is not elected within 30 days.

Effectively, the only item on the agenda in the event of a successful motion no confidence, is to elect a new president within the timeframe.

Mbete as Speaker assumes the presidency until a new member is elected from among the members, Section 90 confirms.

If no president is elected within 30 days, Parliament dissolves anyway. Mbete assumes the presidency for a further 90 days, and new elections must be held within that period.

Cabinet continues its duties in the interim until a new president is sworn in.

- Read more: How to dissolve the National Assembly

The above is all contingent on President Zuma refusing to resign willingly.

If Zuma resigns willingly, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa becomes acting president. A new president must still be elected in 30 days, but the presidency and Cabinet continues its work.

The opposition will still table a motion for dissolution, but it will be heard on another scheduled date.

The ANC's NEC is currently meeting in Irene, Pretoria to decide on Zuma's future.

DEVELOPING: No deal yet on Zuma - presidency

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