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Opposition MPs stand firm in fight to unseat Mbete

Opposition MPs say Baleka Mbete’s dual role compromises the quality of her work.

Speaker of the National Assembly,  Baleka Mbete briefing media on how Parliament intends to give effect to recommendations to protect the rights of Members held in Pretoria on 24 July 2015. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - A lawyer for three opposition parties has argued National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete's disparaging comments about Julius Malema demonstrates her inability to be impartial and non-partisan.

Agang SA, Congress of the People and the United Democratic Movement want an order declaring Mbete unfit to hold office because she is biased in favour of the ruling party because of her dual role as African National Congress (ANC) chairperson.

They argue that her concurrent role as chairperson of the ANC and speaker impedes her ability to perform her function in Parliament objectively.

Agang SA's Parliamentary leader Andries Tlouamma said this case is about protecting the Legislature.

"We believe this case will show other small parties that it's not about how many members you have or how much you have in your bank account, it's a matter of conscience and sensibility. We need to fight because one day we're going to leave this country to our children."

The application was launched after Agang SA tabled a motion of no confidence in the President late last year and Mbete refused to recuse herself.

Mbete has already apologised for calling Malema a "cockroach" while addressing an ANC event earlier this year.

But in court papers the applicants claim it was a "weasel apology" which was inadequate.

Their advocate Jan Heunis argued in court on Tuesday that Mbete was not behaving in a manner consistent with the duties of the speaker.

He said the cockroach comment, should have spelled the end of Mbete's role as speaker.

Heunis said Mbete is to blame for Parliament descending into chaos on several occasions because of her inability to be impartial and non-partisan.

Parliament on the other hand is opposing every aspect of the application.

MOTION OF IMPEACHMENT AGAINST ZUMA

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has meanwhile tabled notice of a motion of impeachment against President Jacob Zuma.

Party leader Mmusi Maimane has told Members of Parliament (MPs) that the party wants the motion debated on 18 August.

The party says events that led to the illegal departure of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in June was a violation of Zuma's presidential oath to uphold the Constitution and all other laws of the land.

Maimane has taken the first step towards having the president impeached over the al-Bashir fiasco.

Tabling his notice of motion in the National Assembly on Tuesday, Maimane said the house should set up an ad-hoc committee to look into the circumstances of the Sudanese leader's controversial exit from South Africa, in contravention of a court order.

The committee should establish whether Zuma's failure to arrest al-Bashir while he was in the country, violated the law and the Constitution.

"Inquire into the failure of the executive to take steps to arrest Omar al-Bashir when he was in the republic."

The committee would then recommend to Parliament whether Zuma should be impeached.

A sitting president can only be removed by a two thirds majority vote of the National Assembly.

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