The Democratic Alliance brought a motion to impeach Zuma to Parliament because it blamed his government for allowing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to leave the country, despite the North Gauteng High Court ordering that he be stopped from leaving. The party called for the establishment of an ad-hoc committee to establish Zuma’s fitness to hold office.
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In a chaotic sitting with shouting MPs and even louder speakers, the motion to impeach Zuma was rejected, with 211 MPs voting against it, 100 for it and 17 abstentions, mostly from the Economic Freedom Fighters.
The EFF suggested amendments to the motion, including establishing an ad-hoc committee to deal with the Marikana massacre. Their motion was defeated with 310 votes against and 17 in favour, with one abstention.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane went back to an old classic during the impeachment debate in Parliament on Tuesday, another version of “the broken man” speech, this time including al-Bashir.
Justice and Correctional Services Deputy Minister John Jeffery reiterated the sentiment by calling him a hollow man, presiding over a hollow party full of empty promises.
In February this year, following the State of the Nation address, Maimane lashed out at Zuma, labelling him a broken man who has been allowed to get away with too much, accusing him of breaking Parliament.
And on Tuesday, he piled yet another wave of criticism on the president, this time for the country’s handling of Bashir’s visit to the country in June during the African Union Summit. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In his speech in Parliament on Tuesday, with ANC MPs heckling him throughout, Maimane said Bashir represented everything dark about the world.
“He joins the ranks of genocidal dictators from across the globe – Hilter of Germany, Pol Pot of Cambodia, Stalin of the Soviet Union and Chairman Mao of the People’s Republic of China. These are the big men of our times. And, like all bullies, they are broken men. Broken men presiding over broken societies.”
Maimane said by allowing Bashir to leave the country, “our broken president broke the law to protect another broken man”. He said that was why they had tabled a motion to look into the impeachment of Zuma.
Maimane told the ANC while they could not fix a broken president, they could recall it, as they had done it before.
“You know as well as do he is beyond repair. Today is your opportunity to put South Africa back on track.”
Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said she was sure South Africans were tired of hearing “broken man this, broken that”.
She said the motion was aimed at discrediting the leadership of the ANC, under Zuma.
“It is also aimed at undermining the role and responsibility of South Africa in the peace-building processes of the African continent. Further, it is aimed at undermining the political, economic and diplomatic relations South Africa has with other AU member states. The ANC-led government has always respected and upheld the rule of law and has always acted in line with the letter and spirit of the Constitution of the Republic.”
She said the question of whether South Africa had a legal obligation to arrest a sitting foreign head of state was a complex matter concerning both international and national law and had far-reaching implications for the conduct of international relations.
“It should be noted that the indictment of President al-Bashir would have potentially destroyed efforts led by Deputy President Ramaphosa as well as the AU in bringing about peace in the region and the country. In addition, it would have affected South Africa’s standing relations in its international and diplomatic relations on the continent and beyond,” said Zulu.
Economic Freedom Fighters MP Godrich Gardee said Zuma should be thrown in the dustbin, though not for not arresting Bashir when he was in the country.
He said the president should be impeached for the slow-moving economy, the Marikana massacre and the spending of funds on his Nkandla homestead.
“Those who want al-Bashir, they should go look for him. He [Zuma] should go, not for al-Bashir, but because he is in total disregard of the Constitution. Pantsi ngoZuma,” Gardee said.
The United Democratic Movement did not support the motion. UDM MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa said if the motion had been about anything else but Bashir, they would have supported it. The African People’s Convention was also against it, while it was supported by the rest of the opposition parties.
ANC MP Jackson Mthembu listed the reasons under which a president can be removed by the house and said the Bashir matter was not a Zuma matter but a government one. “There is no constitutional or parliamentary basis for such an ad-hoc committee to be established. President Zuma remains unbroken.”
He accused the DA of moving to the EFF’s gutter politics. Deputy Minister Jeffery said only a court of law and not Maimane could decide whether the department was in contempt of court.
“The issue is not around whether we support genocide or not.” He then turned to Maimane and said he did not know the Constitution.
“But all of this is probably not surprising, given that the leader of the opposition was fast-tracked into the limelight by Helen Zille and has little over a year’s experience in Parliament.”
He said Maimane was in it for the headlines. “Honourable Maimane is a hollow man presiding over a hollow party. A party which is, as Business Day called it, all bright lights and hashtags. A hollow man, presiding over a hollow party, devoid of substance.
“This motion and the establishment of an ad hoc committee is yet another DA-pipedream, another empty promise, another empty DA headline. There is not an iota of substance to it.”