Opposition parties unified in calling for Zuma to step down

Parties have been debating a motion to remove the president following the ConCourt ruling.

EFF MPs in Parliament during impeachment debate against President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Screengrab.

CAPE TOWN - There has been a unified voice by opposition parties in Parliament for President Jacob Zuma to step down after the historic judgment by the Constitutional Court last week.

Parties have been debating a motion to remove the president after the court found that Zuma had violated his oath of office.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane launched a fierce attack against the ANC (ANC).

"Corruption has infected the entire party like a cancer. While our attention today is focused on a large and malignant tumour, we know that under the surface the disease has replicated itself in every cell. Speaker, the ANC's vital signs are not looking good."

He says South Africans are offended by Zuma's refusal to step down.

"Basically, they said it is not a big deal. Well, we are here on behalf of every South African to say it is a big deal."

He added that South Africans are angry.

"Today the anger in our country remains palpable. The people of this country don't like being taken for fools and that is what President Zuma and [Secretary General] Gwede Mantashe did on Friday night."

At the same time, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema told the house the Constitutional Court judgment could not be ignored.

"The judges were clear that the president and this Parliament engaged in an unlawful activity. We cannot behave as if the court has not pronounced itself."

He says his party will not back down.

"You want us to continue with business as usual. The Speaker of Parliament doesn't get removed, the president remains, the legal advisers of the president remain. Even after that Constitutional Court [judgment], no single individual has been held accountable."

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However, the ANC's John Jeffrey says the Constitutional Court was merely clarifying the powers of the Public Protector and the president should not be held accountable.

"The president acted in good faith and in the justified belief that he was entitled to do so in terms of the Constitution. His failure to fully implement the recommendations of the Public Protector or to take the report on review was on the belief, which there was on the considerable support at the time, that remedial action was not binding."

But in the last few minutes, Advocate Thuli Madonsela has tweeted that:

Maimane tore into the ANC, saying the ruling party is infected with corruption and prepared to support President Zuma over the Constitution and the rule of law.

He opened the debate on the DA's motion to unseat Zuma, after a 90-minute delay caused by opposition parties' demands that Speaker Baleka Mbete recuse herself.

Maimane says the Constitutional Court's judgment last week should have signalled the end for President Zuma.

He was under no illusions that the ANC would use its majority in the House this afternoon to defeat the DA's bid to unseat the president.

"Today, it will be recorded that ANC members of this Parliament chose to defend a crooked and broken president instead of the Constitution and the rule of law."

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Jeffery told MPs it is the DA, and not the Constitutional Court, that has found Zuma to be in serious violation of the Constitution.

Maimane continued to attack the ruling party.

"We know that our counterparts on the ANC benches do not share our respect for our law. Indeed in his judgment last week, the chief justice was scathing about the conduct of the ANC parliamentary caucus and the presiding officers."

But the ANC's Pule Mabe says it's frivolous to continue this the motion to have Zuma impeached, turning to a bible scripture to prove the opposition wrong.

"Our honourable friends disregarded that the holy Easter's had to offer and took this route, which unfortunately leads to nowhere. Displaying outright desperation and the misguided lust to portray themselves as champions of the Constitution and the rule of law."