S African opposition says it will endeavour to remove Zuma

South Africa’s main opposition says it will take any step necessary to remove President Jacob Zuma from his post if national assembly could not do so

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Members of the opposition party are seen listening from the public gallery during the judgment against President Jacob Zuma by South Africa's Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, March 31, 2016.

South Africa's main opposition will take any steps necessary to remove President Jacob Zuma from his post should parliament fail to do so, it said on Friday, a day after a top court ruled that the embattled leader had flouted the constitution over renovations to his private home.

The constitutional court said President Jacob Zuma failed to uphold, defend and respect the constitution when he ignored the instructions of an anti-graft watchdog to repay some of the $16 million spent on his private home.

"We cannot have Jacob Zuma and the constitution in one parliament. Both those things cannot co-exist," Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane told a news conference.

The main opposition party asserted on Thursday it had started impeachment proceedings against Zuma, but the move is difficult to succeed due to his African National Congress ruling party holds a comfortable majority in parliament.

The judicial decision might encourage an anti-Zuma sentiment within the ANC to challenge his leadership. The former liberation movement has governed South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994, when Nelson Mandela became the first black president    

"Now is the time for the ANC to remove Zuma," Boikie Motsi, 43, a car guard stationed at a Johannesburg park, said to Reuters on Friday.

The DA was joined on Friday by the Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO), the party that asserts the legacy of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, endeavour to remove Zuma due to upgrading his vast Nkandla compound in his native KwaZulu-Natal province.

"For the sake of our country and its people, President Zuma should summon the very last amount of conscience, if he still has any, and resign," AZAPO said in a statement.

Zizi Godwa, ANC spokesman, did not immediately respond to request for comment on Friday. A party official told Reuters on Thursday the party’s six leaders were planning to hold an urgent meeting to evaluate the implications of the court findings.

In 2014, Public Prosecutor Thuli Madonsela, a constitutionally mandated anti-graft watchdog, indicated a swimming pool, cattle enclosure, chicken run, amphitheatre and visitor centre as renovates at Nkandla compound that were not necessary for security and that Zuma must therefore pay for.           

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng gave the treasury 60 days in which to determine their "reasonable cost", after which Zuma would have a further 45 days to pay. Early estimates of the bill were 10 million rand ($680,000), Madonsela said.

"It is very pleasing to know that money that people paid tax for is now going back to the treasury and instead of going towards Nkandla it can go to building hospitals and schools," Tumi Mahlangu, 23, a salesperson at an e-cigarette kiosk in a Johannesburg mall.

The government claimed Zuma will reflect on a top court judgement that ruled he should repay some of the expenses spent on his home.

The DA also called for parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete to resign after the constitutional court ruled that the national assembly had also broken the law.

TRTWorld and agencies