'Zuma impeachment motion the right thing to do'

MPs are set to debate the DA's motion shortly after the National Assembly convenes at 2pm.

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - The Democratic Alliance (DA) says even if this afternoon's bid to remove President Jacob Zuma from office fails, it's still the right thing to do.

MPs are set to debate the DA's motion shortly after the National Assembly convenes at 2pm.

MPs will be debating and voting on a DA motion in terms of Section 89 of the Constitution.

This provides for the removal of a sitting president, if they are found to be in serious violation of the Constitution, or the law.

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While there have been bids to impeach Zuma before, this is the first time that MPs will be called on to vote directly for what amounts to his dismissal.

With the ANC having closed ranks around their party's leader, the vote is unlikely to garner the two-thirds majority support that it needs.

But the DA's James Selfe says it is important that it go ahead.

"I think it's very important, given the damning nature of the Constitutional Court judgment… that is the very least that conscientious and responsible members of Parliament ought to do because you cannot have the highest court in our land say that the President of South Africa failed in his constitutional obligations, and then just sit around and say isn't that interesting?.'"

The DA's motion puts ANC MPs in a difficult position, in the sense that they are effectively having to choose between the Constitution and their party.

The ANC's majority means the DA's bid to dislodge the president from office will almost certainly fail.

But Selfe adds, "I think it's an occasion in South Africa's history where one really needs to try and look beyond party political structures and put the country first."

Selfe says Helen Suzman routinely brought motions to Parliament during apartheid that were doomed to fail, but he says her views prevailed in the end and that the DA believes history will show it acted correctly.


Meanwhile, opposition party leaders, who met earlier to discuss the president's removal, aren't divulging their strategy ahead of this afternoon's debate.

The country's major opposition players held their meeting at Parliament behind closed doors.

Opposition parties came together to strategise before this afternoon's debate. The meeting was attended by among others, EFF leader Julius Malema and Cope's Mosiuoa Lekota.

As he left the meeting's venue, DA leader Mmusi Maimane kept journalists guessing about what plans opposition leaders have up their sleeves.

"We had a very good meeting now and we'll do a briefing straight after the debate today."

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa's lips were also sealed.

Journalists were told they would be briefed after this afternoon's debate, suggesting opposition MPs may not remain in the house until the end of today's sitting, which is scheduled to end at 7pm.

WATCH: ConCourt's Nkandla ruling - What will Parliament do?


Last week, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng explained why the judgment on Nkandla was important.

"It deals with issues of monumental importance for the people of this country and the well-being of our constitutional democracy. The case provides profound lessons on the nature of, and the wisdom behind, the architectural design of our constitutional democracy."

Mogoeng said the National Assembly should have held Zuma accountable, or challenged the Public Protectors findings in court.

The Chief Justice said the president should have decided whether or not to comply with the Public Protector's remedial action.

Instead, Zuma relied on investigations which exonerated him.

Mogoeng said this was destructive and the only way he could have challenged the Public Protector's findings was to go to court.

"He did not challenge the report through a judicial process. He appeared to have been content with the apparent vindication of this position by the ministers' favourable recommendations and considered himself to have been lawfully absolved."

The president was ordered to pay back a reasonable amount of the money spent on upgrading his Nkandla home. National Treasury has been given 60 days to determine a reasonable amount for Zuma to pay back. Zuma will then have 45 days to pay the final amount.

On Friday, the president addressed the nation and apologised following the judgment on Thursday last week.

WATCH: Treasury creating team to determine Zuma's Nkandla bill

To read the full judgment by the ConCourt on Nkandla, click here.

To view EWN's feature on key moments from the Nkandla saga, click here.