Issued on • Modified
African Press Review 30 December, 2017
The South African Parliament "fails in its duty." President Jacob Zuma in trouble again, as Parliament is ordered to prepare for his impeachment.
As you'd expect, one story the South African papers are headlining is the ruling from South Africa's top court that Parliament failed to do its duty in holding President Jacob Zuma accountable over his use of state funds to upgrade his private home.
The ruling said Parliament must now set out rules for impeachment proceedings.
The Sowetan reports that the South African Federation of Trade Unions, SAFU, has welcomed the Constitutional Court judgement.
SAFU urged the National Assembly to take action following the court’s ruling, the paper says..
The Sowetan quotes SAFU as saying “The federation also calls on the ANC to act decisively against its former President‚ to remove him as President of the country‚ and to appoint a new national director of public prosecutions‚ who will be able to open a case not only on the issue of Nkandla (that's the name of Zuma's property) but all the other charges of corruption which he (Zuma) faces.
Though SAFU wants even handedness, saying Zuma must not be singled out as the only culprit. "All the other public officials‚ state-owned enterprise executives and their accomplices in the private sector who have been implicated must face the might of the law‚” it adds.
Business Day makes the points that the verdict of Constitutional Court Judges was not unanimous.
In a story headlined " Chief Justice’s dissenting voice in Zuma judgement described as ‘misplaced and unfortunate’, the paper reveals that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s view was that the ruling in the so-called impeachment case was "a textbook judicial over-reach," saying "it was a constitutionally impermissible intrusion by the judiciary into the exclusive domain of Parliament".
Justice Johan Froneman, who concurred with the majority judgement, said there is nothing wrong in substantive debate being robust, "but to attach a label to the opposing view does nothing to further the debate". He said the outcome was "a serious attempt to grapple with the important constitutional issue at hand".
In a related story, Business Day notes that "Section 89 of the Constitution deals with the impeachment of the President and says the National Assembly may remove the President from office only on the grounds of a serious violation of the Constitution or the law; serious misconduct; or an inability to perform the functions of office.
"For this to be possible - the National Assembly would have to adopt a resolution with the supporting vote of two-thirds of the MPs.
"If a President is removed - he or she may not receive any benefits of that office, and may not serve in any public office."
If it comes to that, and it's a big if, it suggests that Zuma won't be luxuriating in a lavish retirement package like the one delivered to his Zimbabwean neighbour Robert Mugabe.
The Johannesburg-based daily the Star, the city's oldest newspaper, says "There has been a major shift in attitude towards Zuma’s removal since the ascendancy of Cyril Ramaphosa to the presidency of the ANC just over a week ago.
But, we'll have to wait and see how Zuma's party reacts to the Court ruling.
The ANC reportedly said it has noted the judgement.
"ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said her party would study the judgements and discuss its full implications when its National Executive Committee meets on January 10," the paper says.
For now, it seems, the ball is in the court of Baleka Mbeté, the Speaker of the National Assembly, who has been ordered to set out rules for the impeachment of President Zuma.
No doubt we can look forward to further episodes of this tangled soap opera in the New Year.