At the same time, opposition parties scrambled to have their motion to vote him out in Parliament to be debated first in case he refused to go.
By the time of going to press, the ruling party’s national executive was locked in a meeting which was expected to make an unequivocal call for Zuma to step down.
This was while opposition parties, on the other hand, upped the ante on Zuma and the ANC, charging that the motion of no confidence by the EFF scheduled for February 22 should be brought forward.
Leaders of opposition parties also spoke with one voice in calling for fresh elections after Zuma has been booted out of office.
Yesterday, the parties said the motion of no confidence should take place this week and that it should be followed by the dissolution of Parliament.
The EFF gave National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete until 10am on today to move the motion of no confidence forward or face court action.
Parliament said last night Mbete was consulting on the EFF request and would revert to the party’s leader Julius Malema.
“The rules of the National Assembly entailed consultation with relevant structures, including the chief whip of the majority party (Jackson Mthembu) and the leader of government business (Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa),” spokesman Moloto Mothapo said.
Zuma’s refusal to quit was set to plunge the ANC into a quagmire.
Opposition parties were pushing that their motion be tabled first, which would force ANC MPs to vote Zuma out with and through the initiative of their opposition counterparts. The opposition motion would also force the ANC to defend Zuma again even when he has been told by the party’s leadership to step down.
Briefing the media, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said Zuma had violated the constitution and should be removed. “The motion was scheduled initially for February 22 this year. The collective of leaders of opposition parties that are here feel it is urgent and therefore natural that Parliament must convene urgently,” Maimane said.
The programming committee of Parliament should meet urgently to decide on a sitting for the motion, he said.
Maimane also said that after Zuma’s removal, Section 50 of the constitution, which calls for the dissolution of Parliament, should be invoked. “Ultimately, anybody who wants to lead the ANC or wants to lead Parliament or the people of South Africa must have the mandate from the people of South Africa and therefore naturally we move to an early election so that we contest and be given a fresh mandate for a sixth Parliament,” Maimane said.
It would be a mammoth task for opposition parties to successfully dissolve Parliament and call for early elections, as this was likely to be met by stern resistance by the governing ANC.
This was according to constitutional law expert Professor Shadrack Gutto, who said the ANC could succeed in blocking attempts for Parliament to be dissolved.
Gutto contended that the opposition parties were postulating this route because they have realised the difficulties of removing Zuma through a vote of no confidence - having failed to do so on eight previous occasions.
Gutto said opposition parties could try the impeachment route, in terms of section 89 of the constitution, but this would also be difficult as a two-thirds majority would be required to impeach a president.
However, a simple majority of 201 Members of Parliament would suffice to pass a motion of no confidence, where the entire cabinet would have to be disbanded and a new president appointed by 30 days, Gutto said.
Mbete would be the president until then, he said.
Malema said the Constitutional Court had made a ruling against Parliament for failing to discharge its responsibility when it did not protect former public protector Thuli Madonsela and hold Zuma accountable, as well as follow impeachment processes.
He also said the country’s problems could not only be blamed on Zuma but the ANC.
“Why are they not saying ‘we want Zuma to go because he is corrupt the court found he violated the oath of office’?”.
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