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Opposition won’t take failed Zuma impeachment bid lying down

Party leaders have vowed to step up pressure on the president to hand in his resignation.

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane in Parliament on Tuesday 5 April 2016. Picture. EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The campaign to unseat President Jacob Zuma is set to broaden after an opposition bid for his removal from office failed in the National Assembly yesterday.

Civil society organisations and religious leaders are set to announce the first steps in a campaign of nationwide protest on the steps of the Constitutional Court later today.

Opposition party leaders have vowed to step up pressure on Zuma as the country's pressure-cooker politics continue to weigh heavily on the state of the economy.

The African National Congress (ANC)'s majority meant the outcome was predictable: 143 votes in favour of sacking Zuma, but 233 votes against, prompting a mass exodus of opposition MPs from the chamber.

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said, "It will be recorded that ANC members of this Parliament chose to defend a crooked, broken president instead of the Constitution and the rule of law."

WATCH: Maimane: Nkandla is a big deal

The ANC attacked the impeachment bid as frivolous, an election ploy, and wrong in law.

Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery said, "The Constitutional Court judgment stated that the president failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution. In the order they stated that his conduct was inconsistent with the Constitution, but the court didn't find a serious violation as required by Section 89 of the Constitution."

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema said, "And you want us to believe that you're protecting the Constitution, you lead by the rule of law. We're all equal before the law, including Zuma."

The ANC argued that Zuma's breach of the Constitution was not a serious violation and that he should therefore not be impeached.

Jeffery tried to argue the president hadn't breached his oath of office.

"Nor did the court declare the president had perpetrated a serious violation of the Constitution or the law."

Malema said, "When the court says this president has failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution that is an oath of office. So once you fail to do that, no-one, not even a deputy minister of justice, can argue that you have succeeded."

Opposition parties say they can't work with a party that's voted to undermine the Constitution, putting a question mark over parliament's future functioning.

The rand wilted as the debate dragged on.

WATCH: President Zuma: I respect the ConCourt's Nkandla judgment