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Tue, 02 Jan 2018 16:52 - Updated Tue, 02 Jan 2018 16:54

Zuma impeachment calls grow after court rules on home upgrade scandal

South Africa?s highest court has ruled that the parliament failed to hold President Jacob Zuma to account in a scandal over state-funded upgrades to his country residence, fuelling opposition calls for him to be impeached.

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Jacob Zuma - President of South Africa

Photo: Angop

The constitutional court ordered the national assembly to make rules that allow the president to be impeached, adding to Zuma’s difficulties after he was replaced last week by Cyril Ramaphosa as leader of the ruling African National Congress.

Frustrated by setbacks in the national assembly, the leftwing Economic Freedom Fighters and other small opposition parties went to court as part of their campaign to impeach Zuma before a general election in 2019.

Last year, the court found that Zuma had violated the constitution when he refused to pay back public money spent on multimillion-pound upgrades to his rural home at Nkandla, in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Improvements to the homestead cost £11m and included a swimming pool, which the former police minister Nkosinathi Nhleko claimed was a “fire pool” for extinguishing fires; an amphitheatre, which Nhleko said could serve as an emergency assembly point, as well as a chicken run and cattle enclosure.

The court cited section 89 of South Africa’s constitution, which allows for the president to be removed for serious misconduct, or violation of the constitution or law, if two thirds of the members of the national assembly are in agreement.

“We conclude that the assembly did not hold the president to account … The assembly must put in place a mechanism that could be used for the removal of the president from office,” judge Chris Jafta said, handing down the judgment, which was supported by a majority of the court.

“Properly interpreted, section 89 implicitly imposes an obligation on the assembly to make rules specially tailored for the removal of the president from office. By omitting to include such rules, the assembly has failed to fulfil this obligation.” EPA

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