South Africa’s top court will rule this Friday on a bid to compel the country’s parliament to launch impeachment proceedings against President Jacob Zuma over a scandal related to state-funded upgrades to his private home.
The Constitutional Court application brought by the EFF, UDM and Congress of the People (Cope) seeks to compel the Speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete, to convene a Committee of Parliament or other independent bodies to investigate President Zuma’s conduct and determine whether he is guilty of breaching his oath of office.
Zuma has faced widespread public demands to step down as president of Africa’s most industrialised economy before a general election in 2019 and the such proceedings could increase pressure on him to quit.
Zuma, 75, is in a weakened position after Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa beat his prefered candidate to become African National Congress (ANC) president last week, although Zuma’s faction still retains key positions in the party and he has already survived no-confidence votes.
The Constitutional Court had reserved judgment on any impeachment in September after opposition parties submitted an application in the wake of a ruling that Zuma failed to uphold the constitution by not abiding by a watchdog’s finding that he repay some of the public money spent on his sprawling rural home.
An official at the court, who was not authorised to speak to the media, said the court was expected to make a ruling at 0800 GMT on Friday.
The opposition politicians who brought the application to court welcomed news of the expected ruling.
United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa says the party is looking forward to a favourable judgment when the Constitutional Court hands down its ruling on whether to impeach President Zuma.
Holomisa says while he remains hopeful for a favourable judgment he does not believe the African National Congress (ANC) Members of Parliament will impeach Zuma.
“Even if we win the court case, the whole thing will hinge on Cyril Ramaphosa’s diluted NEC to give an instruction to Parliament as to whether the inquiry should proceed.”
In March 2016, the court ruled that Zuma pay back some of the roughly $15 million in state money spent upgrading his private home.
The unanimous ruling by the 11-judge Constitutional Court, a central pillar of the democracy established at the end of apartheid, also said Zuma had failed to “uphold, defend and respect” the constitution by ignoring the findings of the watchdog led by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.
Zuma has since repaid 7.8 million rand ($631,000) – the sum determined by the Treasury as the “reasonable cost” he should bear – while also surviving a no-confidence motion in parliament where some members of own his party voted to oust him.
Zuma has denied wrongdoing over many of the corruption allegations that have swirled around his presidency. Last week Zuma sought leave to appeal a court ruling ordering him to set up a judicial inquiry into influence-peddling in his government.