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South Africa Opposition Party Moves to Impeach President Zuma

  • Peter Clottey

FILE - President Jacob Zuma arrives at Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, for the State Of The Nation address, Feb. 11, 2016.

FILE - President Jacob Zuma arrives at Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, for the State Of The Nation address, Feb. 11, 2016.

South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) on Thursday proposed a motion in parliament to impeach President Jacob Zuma.

The move followed a Constitutional Court ruling Thursday that said Zuma should pay part of the $16 million of public funds used to renovate his private home in Nkandla, according to James Selfe, chairman of the DA's federal executive, which deals with legal matters.

It remains unclear if parliamentarians from Zuma's ruling African National Congress (ANC) will back the motion to impeach him. The impeachment requires support from two-thirds of lawmakers to succeed.

"What the Constitutional Court found was that President Zuma has failed to carry out his constitutional responsibilities and has acted in a manner which was unconstitutional and illegal," Selfe said. "That constitutes in our view a serious violation of the constitution, and our view is that he should now be impeached.”

FILE - A Sept. 28, 2012, photo shows the private compound homestead of South African President Jacob Zuma in Nkandla, South Africa.

FILE - A Sept. 28, 2012, photo shows the private compound homestead of South African President Jacob Zuma in Nkandla, South Africa.

Supporters of the ANC say it is unlikely the party's lawmakers will back the impeachment proceedings against Zuma. They cited previous attempts by the opposition DA after it moved a vote of no confidence in Zuma, which eventually failed.

Selfe disagreed.

"It's less important what the ANC majority does [because] the Constitutional Court has made it very clear that the majority had not fulfilled its constitutional duties to hold President Zuma accountable,” Selfe said, “and that the failure to do this may very well in turn be reviewable in court."

Zuma supporters

Supporters of Zuma say the president has already offered to pay part of the cost of renovating his private home.

Supporters said the move for Zuma's impeachment is a public relations exercise for the opposition to score cheap political points because they have not been able to defeat the ANC during elections.

But Selfe contends that Zuma has a long track record of failure to abide by the constitution, which he says warrants a motion of impeachment.

"[Zuma] is trying, obviously, to minimize the political damage and the legal damage to his reputation," Selfe said.

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