Johannesburg - The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has accused National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete of failing to hold President Jacob Zuma to account for breaching the oath of his office.
Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi for the EFF told the Constitutional Court on Tuesday that Mbete had failed in her duty by rejecting a fact-finding inquiry to be chaired by a judge called on by the EFF or a multi-party committee to probe Zuma's conduct.
Ngcukaitobi also argued that the scrutiny into Zuma's conduct offered by Motions of No Confidence did not fulfil the required scrutiny as the majority party "simply rammed through a proposal", and thus it did not apply in this matter, or in the relief sought by the EFF.
"There has been no scrutiny of president's conduct. We say there should be an inquiry into the conduct of the president. Nothing prohibits the Speaker from appointing a judge for the inquiry. It may even be the preferable route as it implies independence. But the Speaker gives no explanation as to why she has not set up a multi-party process. She says it hasn't been asked for," Ngcukaitobi said.
"The President knew public funds were being used in Nkandla and allowed it. That's prima facie case of serious misconduct. The obligation to hold exec to account does not lie with opposition parties. We say there has been a failure by Parliament to hold the executive to account. It is constitutionally disturbing that the Speaker continues to shift responsibility in holding exec to account."
The EFF went to court seeking a declaratory order to direct Parliament to consider Zuma's conduct and whether he's impeachable following the court's ruling that he had broken his oath of office and the the country's constitution.
In March last year, the Constitutional Court delivered a damning ruling in which it stated that Zuma had failed to “uphold, defend and respect the Constitution” when he did not adhere to the remedial actions called for by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela after more than R200 million of public money was spent in upgrading Zuma’s Nkandla homestead.
Ngcukaitobi said they were asking the court to direct Parliament to determine if there are grounds to impeach Zuma.
He said the EFF wanted a fact-finding inquiry which would allow Zuma to present his side and be cross examined.
But Ngcukaitobi struggled to convince Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng why the matter had to be heard at the ConCourt in the first place since the court had pronounced on Zuma's conduct, also asking why opposition parties were not approaching the Speaker to request the establishment of an ad hoc committee in Parliament.
The matter continues after it a short adjournment, with Advocate Dali Mpofu for the United Democratic Movement having started his argument.