The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) celebrated its final victory of the year after the Constitutional Court ruled in its favour and found Parliament had not done its duty to hold President Jacob Zuma to account for his breach of the Constitution when he spent public money upgrading his private Nkandla home.
The court ruled that Parliament had also breached the Constitution in its conduct.
The court came to four judgments‚ but a majority judgment ordered Parliament to start processes under Section 89 of Constitution to investigate whether Zuma should be impeached within 180 days.
The EFF‚ the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and the Congress of the People (Cope) had asked the court to find that Parliament and National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete had not done enough to hold Zuma to account for violating the Constitution by using taxpayers’ money for “upgrades” to his Nkandla home. They wanted a hearing and investigation into Zuma’s conduct.
Section 89 of the Constitution allows a president to be removed with a two-thirds vote of no confidence for violating the Constitution‚ for serious misconduct or breaking the law.
But there are no parliamentary rules on how to implement a motion tabled in Parliament under Section 89.
The Democratic Alliance‚ which had been an intervening party in the case‚ had argued that these rules were needed to implement Section 89 in Parliament
The majority judgment penned by Justice Chris Jafta concurred.
The court told Parliament it has 120 days to make rules on how it would impeach a president under Section 89 of the Constitution.
The removal of a president by impeachment requires a factual inquiry into whether the president should be removed in terms of Section 89 of the Constitution.
This is why the court ordered parliament to start a process such as hearing or investigation under Section 89 to determine if the President should be removed for violating the Constitution or for serious misconduct within 180 days.
The court found using an ad hoc committee to hold Zuma accountable in parliament was not acceptable because it could easily be interfered with.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng wrote a minority judgment saying the majority order was a “textbook case of judicial overreach” into Parliament.
He found applicants EFF‚ UDM and Cope were themselves part of a process that already taking place to make rules for motions to remove the president under Section 89 of the Constitution. He said the order served no “beneficial or practical purpose” given that rules were being made.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo‚ in his minority judgment‚ found that motions of no confidence in Zuma had satisfied Parliament’s duty to hold Zuma to account for violating the Constitution. He would have dismissed EFF’s application.
But the majority judgment means EEF won with costs‚ which will be paid jointly by Parliament and the presidency.