POLITICS

Experts Don't Seem Convinced About The EFF's Legal Bid To Impeach Zuma

"At the moment he has the support of the NEC and that’s really all he needs."

29/05/2017 16:37 SAST | Updated 29/05/2017 16:54 SAST
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Analysis

The president yesterday survived a second party motion of no confidence in his leadership, but that is not the end of efforts to force him from office. The Constitutional Court announced yesterday that it will hear the EFF's bid to push Parliament to have the president impeached on 5 September.

Will it succeed? It's essentially not a legal question but rather a political one, says constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos of the University of Cape Town.

"In all likelihood, Zuma will remain president until the end of his term in 2019. At the moment he has the support of the NEC and that's really all he needs... The court was not voted for by the people of South Africa and therefore it cannot decide on whether or not the president should hold office," said De Vos.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga, who wrote the bestseller "When Zuma goes", says that in this case, "the court is just a means through which political battles can be fought".

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Like any constitutional democracy, South Africa's Constitution is structured on the principle of separation of powers between the three branches of government: the judicial, the legislative and the executive.

"The Constitution is very clear regarding the conditions under which the president can be released from his responsibilities... the discretion is left to Parliament to decide if any particular offence that has been committed by the president warrants a removal from office," said Mathekga.

He added: "The court can only set the conditions through which the president could leave office, but the decision still sits with Parliament."

According to the rules if a president is impeached, he will lose all his benefits including pension and security. Impeachment is provided for by the Constitution under section 89, which states that Parliament can impeach the president with a vote of two-thirds of the members of the National Assembly, said De Vos.

De Vos said he believes the EFF wants the court to rule that the National Assembly has failed to do what it is supposed to in holding the president accountable and to order the assembly to do something -- but not say exactly what that something should be.

Mathekga said that if the court rules in favour of the EFF, the judgment will become a tool of political mobilisation against Zuma.