Sunday, December 5, 2021

South Africa assembly to study impeachment procedure

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(FILES) This file photo taken on April 12, 2017 shows South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma attending celebrations for his 75th birthday in Kliptown, Soweto.South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal ruled on Friday that President Jacob Zuma can face prosecution over almost 800 charges of corruption relating to a 1990s arms deal. / AFP PHOTO / John WESSELS

South Africa’s parliament indicated Sunday it would this week deliberate procedures for presidential impeachment, as pressure mounts on embattled incumbent Jacob Zuma.

The move came just days after the Constitutional Court ruled that parliament had failed to hold Zuma accountable for using public money for private home upgrades.

Last month the court found the president guilty of violating his oath of office by refusing to pay back the cash and order the National Assembly to draw up procedures that could be used for his removal.

Parliament’s subcommittee on reviewing procedures said it would convene Wednesday and Thursday “to deliberate on a draft procedure for implementing section 89(1) of the Constitution: Removal of President.”

It added that once the subcommittee had finalised a draft procedure it would need to go before the National Assembly for adoption, and that “in keeping with the Assembly’s commitment to comply fully with the Constitutional Court’s majority judgment”, lawmakers had been notified and furnished with documentation for consideration.

The committee added documents including a draft procedure drawn up in April 2016, but not finalised, and a comparative study, compiled in 2015, about impeachment proceedings of seven other parliaments on the removal of a head of state.

“The draft procedure, once finalised by the Subcommittee, would need to be adopted by the National Assembly as part of the Assembly’s rules,” it noted.

Zuma failed to abide by recommendations made by the country’s anti-corruption watchdog in 2014 over $15 million of taxpayer-funded refurbishments at his personal home in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province.

After the Court found against him, he eventually reimbursed the equivalent of around $500,000 for non security-related work at his homestead, a sum set by the treasury.

Until recently, the ruling African National Congress has steadfastly supported Zuma. But, a year out from the expiry of his second term, corruption allegations have tarnished his image and eroded his support base.

Last month also saw him suffer a blow when his vice-president Cyril Ramaphosa, who campaigned on an anti-corruption ticket, was elected ANC president after seeing off Zuma’s former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Ramaphosa is set to distance himself from Zuma as the ANC seeks to retain its absolute majority in next year’s general elections even if the latter still retains a constituency of support within the movement after ten years as its leader.

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