The Constitution of South Africa is clear that a sitting president ceases to hold office if the removal or motion of no confidence resolution is adopted at a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.
That vote should be passed by a majority or at least two-thirds of the members of the House. The president can be impeached on the grounds of a serious violation of this constitution or the other laws of the Republic, or of misconduct or inability rendering him or her unfit to exercise and perform his or her powers and functions.
Section 89 deals with the removal of the president, while section 102 deals with a motion of no confidence. While the two processes could lead to a similar outcome, they are materially different.
In 2016, Parliament released a communique clarifying the issue during one of the number of times MPs have debated the motion of no confidence brought by the opposition against Jacob Zuma. It emphasised that motion of no confidence is given priority due to “constitutional significance”.
Speaker Baleka Mbete has received such a request from EFF leader Julius Malema, while a group of leaders of the opposition have gone a step further and proposed a dissolution of Parliament.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa told the media today that they were against the idea of either Mbete or the deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa becoming the acting president of the country as permissible in the constitution. They are arguing the Constitutional Court has pronounced that all members of Parliament, including the opposition, failed to hold Zuma accountable on the Nkandla matter.
The Constitutional Court in December directed the National Assembly to establish procedural mechanism within for section 89 motions guiding the House on how to remove the president. Parties met earlier in the year to deal with this matter. A proposal was made for a three-staged process that entails tabling and debating of a motion, referral of a committee to process the matter and reporting back to the House with recommendations.
A motion of no confidence, as dealt with in section 102 of the constitution, outlines that if the National Assembly, by a vote supported by a majority of its members, passes a motion of no confidence in the Cabinet, excluding the president, the president must reconstitute the Cabinet.
If the National Assembly, by a vote supported by a majority of its members, passes a motion of no confidence in the president, the president and the other members of the Cabinet and any deputy ministers must resign.
A member of parliament may propose that a motion of no confidence in the Cabinet or the president in terms of section 102 be placed on the Order Paper. The speaker must accord such motion of no confidence due priority and, before scheduling it, must consult with the leader of government business and the chief whip of the majority party.
If the motion is sustained, Mbete becomes an acting president while deputy speaker Lechesa Tsenoli will become acting deputy president. According to Media24, the acting president can only dissolve Parliament if a new president is not elected within 30 days.
In that scenario, Mbete assumes the presidency for a further 90 days, and new elections must be held within that period.
If Zuma resigns willingly, Media24 explained deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa becomes acting president. A new president must still be elected in 30 days, but the Presidency and Cabinet continues its work.
Additional information provided by www.thesouthafrica.com