Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma's violation of the Constitution and his breach of the oath of office was not bona fide, advocate Dali Mpofu told the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.
Mpofu said that Zuma should be hauled before a "fact-finding inquiry" which would determine if his violation of the Constitution was an honest mistake or a deliberate deed.
"Did the president violate the Constitution knowingly or did he get wrong advice? If the president's violation was bona fide, then I would agree that it is not so serious. But if it was knowingly, then it is serious. Our prayer is the court should find that the National Assembly has failed to take all mechanisms to hold the president accountable," Mpofu said.
"All we're asking for is an independent, free and fair inquiry into his violations. Chief Justice asks what stops parties from approaching the speaker. Well, she has refused three times over a year. Is there a prima facie case of impeachable conduct against the President. The question answers itself: yes."
Mpofu was representing the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and the Congress of the People (Cope) in the opposition parties' application to have Parliament institute impeachment proceedings against Zuma in terms of section 89 of the Constitution.
The UDM and Cope were joining the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) which 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 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 his Nkandla homestead.
However, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng emphasised that the court needed clarity on why it should intervene on Parliament's alleged inability to hold Zuma to account while not overstepping separation of powers.
"Every arm of the State has a role to play. I want to make sure court does not take over Parliament's responsibility," Mogoeng said.
Mpofu said there was hierarchy of accountability measures in Parliament, starting at question and answer sessions and ending with impeachment.