From IBTimes. Story by By Ludovica Iaccino.
South African opposition parties are moving to impeach President Jacob Zuma after the country’s Constitutional Court ruled the leader and the National Assembly breached the constitution for failing to repay state funds used to renovate Zuma’s Nkandla private residence in KwaZulu-Natal province.
The verdict of the highest court in the country was welcomed by opposition parties which had urged Zuma to step down following growing discontent and allegations of corruption.
Stephen Chan, a leading academic specialising in South African affairs at London’s SOAS University, said the court’s ruling directly associated Zuma with corruption.
“The exceptionally strong language of the court startled many South Africans. I have not come across such language associated with a national president anywhere else in the world for many years,” he said.
“As president, Zuma enjoys various immunities. However, he is president under the constitution. The view of the constitutional court, established to uphold and protect the constitution of the state, is therefore of the highest moral consequence – not to mention its high juridicial import.”
The ANC has the power to recall Zuma as it recalled former President Thabo Mbeki in 2008. Chan believes that although it is unlikely for the ANC to back a motion for impeachment, the party is facing a “politically embarrassing” phase and might recall the leader.
“It is the lowest point in the ANC Government since 1994. To continue with Zuma as president would be even more embarrassing. The ANC, if it has any pride or moral standing left to salvage, must move to recall the president,” he concluded.
Zuma, who denied the allegations, was accused of spending $15 million for upgrading his home. The upgrades include a swimming pool, a cattle enclosure, a chicken run and an amphitheatre.
Opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters brought to the court two separate cases of misuse of state money.
In 2014, the country’s anti-corruption body, the public protector, ruled that the president had “unduly benefited” from the upgrades, and should pay back the money.
The court ruled Zuma’s failure to repay state funds was “inconsistent” with the constitution. it also condemned the ANC-dominated parliament for failing to hold the president accountable.
The National Treasury will decide how much the president has to repay within 60 days, and Zuma is expected to repay the amount within 45 days of the ruling.
The leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters said his party would remove Zuma from his office and arrest him.
The Democratic Alliance said it would apply for Zuma’s removal.
Mathews Phosa, a former top official of the ANC called on Zuma to step down. The ANC said the party would meet to discuss the implications of the court’s verdict.
Zuma faces mounting pressure for perceived close ties with the controversial Gupta family, accused of wielding excessive political influence in the country.
Some analysts believe the president will soon lose the trust of influential ANC members. Earlier in March, the governing party dismissed reports that Zuma offered to resign following increasing allegations of corruption.
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