POLITICS

Everything You Need To Know About The ConCourt Case Against Zuma Starting Today

The EFF wants the court to declare against Zuma's and Mbete's conduct, not for Parliament to impeach the president. Could it work or will it fail like the vote of no confidence?

05/09/2017 06:16 SAST | Updated 05/09/2017 12:45 SAST

Analysis

In the next step of the onslaught against him, a landmark case to oust President Jacob Zuma is expected to be heard at the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.

Led by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the case, which seeks to get the wheels turning on a process to impeach the president, saw opposition parties taking a unified stance against Zuma.

In March, following a failed attempt to have Parliament impeach Zuma last year, the EFF, along with the United Democratic Movement and the Congress of the People, filed papers at the Constitutional Court, seeking its mediation.

The DA came afterwards, wanting to intervene in the case, saying they could provide new evidence to assist the case.

What the EFF is trying to do
But what is most interesting is that the EFF is not asking the court to rule that Parliament should impeach Zuma, but rather to make declarations on the conduct of national Speaker Baleka Mbete and Zuma -- declarations that could be used in upcoming impeachment proceedings.

Smart.

Asking the court to intervene in issues of the state and government would be futile -– something Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng made clear when he left the decision to hold a vote of no confidence in Zuma by secret ballot in Mbete's hands.

Instead, what the EFF wants is for the court to declare that Mbete failed to put in place mechanisms to hold Zuma accountable for failing to implement former public protector Thuli Madonsela's recommendations tabled in her Nkandla report.

They want the court to rule that Mbete therefore acted in violation of the Constitution and should convene a committee of Parliament or another independent body to investigate the Zuma's conduct to determine whether he is guilty of an offence.

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

If found guilty, it would warrant the exercise of Parliament's powers to remove him.

How impeachment works
If the court rules in favour of the EFF, it would give them the ammunition to better pursue and argue for impeachment processes to be instated. But impeachment is tricky, even trickier than a vote of no confidence.

In the case of impeachment, the National Assembly must adopt a resolution to remove the president from office, based on a serious violation of the Constitution or the law; serious misconduct; or an inability to perform the functions of office.

A favourable ruling to the EFF's case ticks those boxes.

But the next step is where it gets worse for the opposition parties.

In the motion of no confidence on August 8, a simple majority (50% plus 1) was needed to oust Zuma -- that's 201 votes. A few dozen ANC MPs voted against the president, but it was not enough.

For an impeachment, two-thirds of all MPs need to vote against Zuma, 60 more than what is required for a vote of no confidence.

The task then looks more daunting: how will the opposition get more ANC members to turn against their president?

Simply put, they can't.

Today's case is a heroic last-ditch attempt to get rid of Zuma, one that has been carefully thought out and relies predominantly on factors outside the control of the applicants. But, it is unlikely that it will lead to Zuma being removed -- simply because of the amount of support he commands in the ANC.