Political parties still undecided on rules for presidential impeachment

Parliament was ordered by the Constitutional Court to put specific rules in place without delay.

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

CAPE TOWN - Political parties have yet to agree on how the impeachment of a sitting president should be governed.

The National Assembly’s subcommittee on rules has reconvened to continue working on draft proposals to give effect to Section 89 of the Constitution.

Parliament was ordered by the Constitutional Court to put specific rules in place without delay.

The so-called impeachment clause in the Constitution allows for the president to be removed on the grounds of serious misconduct, serious violation of the Constitution or the law, or incapacity.

The big question is: who defines what "serious" means?

The Economic Freedom Fighters are still pushing for an “impeachment panel” of retired judges to determine whether there are grounds for the president’s removal.

Other parties are concerned that this would mean Parliament, whose members elect the president, abdicates its responsibility as only the National Assembly has the power to remove the head of state.

The Democratic Alliance suggested that any fact-finding inquiry be carried out by a panel, which includes MPs, retired judges and an evidence leader.

The committee has to ensure that the majority party cannot use its superior numbers to block the impeachment process before it comes to the House for a vote.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)