Parliament says Constitutional Court ruling does not fault Speaker

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PARLIAMENT, December 29 (ANA) – Parliament said on Friday that the Constitutional Court ruling on the legislature’s failure to hold President Jacob Zuma accountable in the Nkandla scandal did not directly implicate Speaker Baleka Mbete.

“The Court neither declared that the Speaker failed to hold the President accountable nor ordered her to establish an impeachment committee of the type described by the applicants,” the legislature’s spokesman Moloto Mothapo said.

“In this regard, the Court has held the National Assembly collectively responsible for not meaningfully implementing Section 89 of the Constitution.”

Earlier on Friday, the country’s highest court ruled that the National Assembly had failed to implement this section of the Constitution, which deals with the removal of a sitting president for serious misconduct or failure to uphold the Constitution.

The ruling followed an application by opposition parties seeking to compel Parliament to act on the court’s 2016 judgment against Zuma, in which it held that he had failed to uphold the Constitution by defying the Public Protector’s instructions on repaying public funds spent on his Nkandla homestead.

The Economic Freedom Fighters, the United Democratic Movement and the Congress of the People argued that since then nothing was done by the National Assembly to initiate steps to hold Zuma to account for breaching the Constitution.

They also sought an order compelling Mbete to establish a fact finding committee, or any independent body, to investigate Zuma’s conduct and determine whether he is guilty of any offence.

On Friday, the court ordered that the rules of the National Assembly be amended without delay to give effect to Section 237 of the Constitution, which demands that all constitutional obligations be performed diligently and without delay.

Mothapo said this was being done already, as part of a wider, ongoing overhaul of the rules by the National Assembly Rules Committee, to outline a procedure to be followed in implementing section 89 of the Constitution.

“In this regard, Parliament will ensure finalisation of the Assembly’s rules, in line with the Court’s order.”

Opposition parties have for years accused Mbete, who was also the chairwoman of the ANC until earlier this month, of being partisan and shielding the president at all cost. She recently appeared to break ranks with the Zuma camp in the deeply divided ruling party, and endorsed Cyril Ramaphosa to become president of the ANC.

African News Agency (ANA)