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Opposition parties’ bid to impeach Zuma fails

House Chairperson Cedric Frolick read out the vote count for the motion, with 100 in favour and 211 against.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Opposition parties have been unsuccessful in their bid to call for an ad hoc committee to investigate the possible impeachment of President Jacob Zuma after Sudan's Omar al-Bashir was allowed to leave the country.

The High Court ordered earlier this year that he not be allowed to leave.

Al-Bashir is wanted for crimes against humanity involving the deaths of hundreds of thousands people.

House Chairperson Cedric Frolick read out the vote count for the motion.

"Those in favour: 100. Those against: 211. There are 17 abstentions and the motion as it appears on the order paper under name of the leader of the opposition is thus rejected."

Earlier, the Democratic Alliance's (DA) James Selfe said government did everything possible to avoid the court order.

"Unit of the police escorted al-Bashir to Waterkloof [Air Force Base], instead of arresting them, they assisted him [with his] escape."

But the African National Congress' Jackson Mthembu fired back, rejecting any motion.

"The African Union and the President al-Bashir matter is not a President Zuma matter. It is the government of the republic that was brought before the South Gauteng Court. I can also assure you that it's our government that is appealing the judgment of that high court."

But the Inkatha Freedom Party's Albert Mncwango says it's time for change.

"It is no coincidence that this matter was brought before this house on this first day of Spring. There is strong argument that South Africa and its governance is indeed desperate need of a thorough spring cleaning."

Mmusi Maimane earlier told MPs they could either choose the rule of law or the rule of war where rich and powerful politicians "get away with murder".

The DA leader said, "You simply can't fix a broken president, you can recall him today. You've done it before and you can do it today in this house."

He accused the president of trampling on the Constitution and the rule of law by allowing the illegal departure of the Sudanese leader.

"On that day President Jacob Zuma chose to violate the court order, he attacked the very foundations of our constitutional democracy."

The vote came after a heated debate, personal attacks and insults.

Earlier the Economic Freedom Fighters suggested an amendment, but that vote went against them with just 17 red berets supporting them.

The party believes should be impeached but not over the al-Bashir debacle.