JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA —
South Africa's Constitutional Court ruled Friday that the country's parliament failed to hold President Jacob Zuma accountable for a scandal over using public funds for a multimillion-dollar upgrade to his private home.
The judgment, which was supported by the majority of the court, could pave the way to another impeachment proceeding against Zuma.
In a ruling handed down earlier this year, the court found that Zuma had violated Section 89 of the Constitution by not paying back the money used for his Nkandla home upgrades, as directed by the public protector.
According to that section, parliament may remove the president from office for serious violations of the law, serious misconduct or inability to perform the functions of his office.
However, parliament does not have rules to implement such a move.
"The failure by the National Assembly to make rules regulating removal of a president in terms of Section 89, Sub 1 of the Constitution, constitutes a violation of this section and is invalid," Justice Chris Jafta said.
Several opposition parties approached the court to impeach Zuma after he was found to have violated the constitution.
Constitutional law expert Lwando Xaso says the court's decision is the first of three steps paving the way for another impeachment try.
"Practically, it comes down to a vote," Xaso said. "Let's say the rules are put in place, parliament reconvenes and they put rules in place for [Section] 89. Probably we are going to have another voting process, and now we have all this jurisprudence to inform that voting process."
Godrich Gardee, Secretary General of the Economic Freedom Fighters party, says the rules should be in place before Zuma gives his next State of the Nation Address in February.
"We can't wait any other day longer. We need to be in parliament in no less than 30 days before the State of the Nation Address of 2018," Gardee said.
However, the judgment was marred by controversy after Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng insisted that his opposing views be read into record. He warned that by tolerating the matter, the court was interfering with another arm of state, the parliament.
Zuma has survived eight motions of no confidence in parliament. But with the ANC divisions now distinct following the party's elective conference a week ago, political experts warn that he may not survive another impeachment effort.