EFF wants retired judges for impeachment committee

2018-01-10 18:26
Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (File, Mlungisi Louw, Netwerk24)

Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (File, Mlungisi Louw, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town – An impeachment committee consisting of retired judges is one of the ideas mooted on Wednesday when the National Assembly subcommittee on the review of rules started deliberations on a draft procedure to remove the president in terms of section 89 of the Constitution.

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi raised the idea, saying that such a panel could consist of five retired judges. His reasoning, he said, was that this would help avoid the possibility of an impeachment motion "being blocked by the politics of majoritarianism".

According to Ndlozi's proposal, the judges would fulfil the fact-finding part of the impeachment process, while the National Assembly would vote to remove the president or not.

His proposal received support from ANC MP Nyami Booi, who referred to the Constitutional Court's decision last month that the National Assembly had failed to put in place proper rules regulating a procedure for section 89(1) of the Constitution – the section that deals with the removal of the president.

Booi said the constitutional judges found that Parliament's committee system wasn't strong enough for impeachment procedures and suggested that capacity is built "around what Dr Ndlozi is offering". 

ANC MP Gerhard Koornhof said the law did not exclude the committee tasked with impeachment from using legal experts.

'Parliament cannot outsource responsibility'

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said he wanted legal clarity on whether Parliament can delegate functions to people who are not MPs in terms of the powers ascribed by the Constitution to MPs.

Not everyone supported Ndlozi's idea.

NFP MP Moses Khubisa said: "Parliament must not be seen abdicating its role of oversight."

FF Plus MP Corné Mulder said he was "a bit sceptical" about Ndlozi's proposal and that he didn't want the legislature's power to be undermined.

"Parliament cannot outsource our responsibility," he said.  

IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa and UDM MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa said MPs should play some part in the process.

"Impeachment is a political process," said Kwankwa. "Politicians should be allowed to interrogate the president."

Push to finalise process 

In response, Ndlozi said there were many people fulfilling parliamentary functions who were not MPs, such as the Sergeant-at-Arms and "the professional hooligans" used to remove MPs from the House. 

Chairperson of the subcommittee Richard Mdakane said draft rules would be compiled, with three proposals: retired judges on a panel, a combination of judges and MPs, and just MPs.

The subcommittee plans to have draft rules ready by next Friday, and have the final document that will be sent to the rules committee by the middle of February. This will then be sent to the National Assembly for adoption. 

Ndlozi pressed hard to have the whole process finalised by the end of February. 

"So that in March the process (of impeachment) can start," he said with a broad grin.

"I was hoping it could be done before the NEC meeting…" jested Steenhuisen in reference to the ANC's national executive committee meeting on Wednesday where the topic of Zuma's resignation or removal is believed to be a point of discussion.

Read more on:    eff  |  mbuyiseni ndlozi

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