ANC to decide on next step after Zuma court blow

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma. PHOTO | AFP 

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party has said it will decide what steps it will take after the Constitutional Court ruled Friday that parliament failed to hold President Jacob Zuma to account for using taxpayers money to upgrade his private home, Nkandla.

Handing down the judgement, Justice Chris Jafta said the failure by the National Assembly to make rules regulating the impeachment of the president constituted a violation of the Constitution.

“The assembly must put in place a mechanism that could be used for the removal of the president from office,” the court ruled.

The ANC has been under pressure to recall President Zuma over corruption allegations, which he denies. But calls have intensified for the newly elected party leader, his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa, to force him to step down.

“The African National Congress has noted the judgment delivered by the Constitutional Court today in relation to the matter brought by a number of opposition parties for Parliament to institute impeachment proceedings against the President of the Republic of South Africa, Comrade Jacob Zuma,” ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said.

“The ANC will study the judgement and discuss its full implications when the National Executive Committee meets on January 10, 2018,” she said.

Mr Zuma resigned as party leader last week and is due to step down as president in 2019 when South Africa holds its general election.

The embattled leader has survived several no-confidence motions in parliament backed by the party members who constitute a majority. However, party support has been on a decline with some members voting to oust him.

Following failure by Mr Zuma to repay the state funds used on his rural home in KwaZulu Natal as had been recommended by an anti-corruption watchdog in 2014, opposition parties moved to court seeking ruling on impeachment of the president.

In March last year, the Constitutional Court had found President Zuma guilty of failing to uphold and respect the Constitution by refusing to pay back the money.

The court however reserved the judgment on any impeachment in September after the Economic Freedom Fighters, United Democratic Movement (UDM) and Congress of the People (Cope) parties approached it seeking a declaratory order to direct Parliament to consider President Zuma’s conduct.

Mr Zuma has since repaid $631,000, a sum set by the Treasury as the “reasonable cost” he should bear of the $15 million spent on Nkandla upgrades.

The Friday ruling was by majority of the judges with only Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng dissenting.

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