In Summary
  • Opposition parties had gone to the Constitutional Court to argue that the speaker of Parliament failed to enforce the appropriate processes to censure Zuma over a scandal.
  • South Africa's top court ruled that Parliament had failed to hold President Jacob Zuma accountable for using public money to refurbish his private home.
  • The ruling is expected to pile pressure on the beleaguered leader to resign ahead of the end of his term as state president in 2019.
  • The National Assembly said it had "already initiated a process, as part of its overhaul of rules" to put in place a procedure for removing a sitting president.

JOHANNESBURG

South Africa's top court on Friday ruled that Parliament had failed to hold President Jacob Zuma accountable for using public money for private home upgrades, a move that could lead to impeachment proceedings.

Opposition parties had gone to the Constitutional Court to argue that the speaker of Parliament failed to enforce the appropriate processes to censure Zuma over the scandal.

SCANDAL

Zuma had failed to abide by recommendations made by the country's anti-corruption watchdog in 2014 over refurbishments at his personal home in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province that misused $15 million of taxpayers' money.

The scandal came to a dramatic climax when the Constitutional Court last year found the president guilty of violating his oath of office by refusing to pay back the cash.

"We conclude that (National) Assembly did not hold the president to account," said Constitutional Court judge Chris Jafta.

"The failure by the National Assembly to make rules regulating removal of the president... constitutes a violation" of the Constitution, the court said.

It ordered that the National Assembly "must comply" with the Constitution and make rules that could be used for the removal of the president "without delay".

COURT CASES

Defeated in court and facing mounting public criticism, Zuma later relented and paid $500,000, a sum set by the treasury following last year's ruling.

In power since 2009, Zuma stepped down last week as president of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party after a 10-year term marked by numerous damning court judgments against him.

Friday's ruling is expected to pile pressure on the beleaguered leader to resign ahead of the end of his term as state president in 2019.

Page 1 of 2