Handing a majority ruling of the Constitutional Court in the declaratory order application brought by opposition parties, Justice Chris Jaftha told Parliament it failed to hold President Jacob Zuma accountable on the Nkandla ruling.
Jaftha opened the court session by explaining that four judgments were individually prepared with two each holding a different view. Consequently, the court had to look at the main findings and reach a majority decision.
In reaching the majority decision, the court also ruled that it has “exclusive authority to hear the application” and found the National Assembly failed to act in accordance with section 89 of the constitution.
Parliament was also ordered to draft rules that will make it clear what the grounds for impeachment are. Justice Jaftha said the three grounds, “serious violation of the law”; “serious misconduct” and “inability to perform duties”, were not explicit.
He indicated that this is because the drafters of the constitution left it out to the Parliament itself to prescribe what the grounds entail in practice.
He also told Parliament section 89 implicitly imposed an obligation on it to me make the rules, which it had failed to.
Parliament was told to comply with section 237 of the constitution “without delay”, an instruction that is likely a referal to set up a parliamentary inquiry to look into the president’s fitness to hold office.
The court also disagreed with Parliament’s contention that it had held Zuma accountable. Parliament responding papers stated motions of no confidence, scheduled debates and questions and answers as appropriate action taken.
“If that is what was taken, it is not what is envisaged in section 89. While he may be removed from office through vote of no confidence, that is section 102 not section 89. The National Assembly did not hold the president as was required by Section 89,” Justice Jaftha said.