Concourt DID find Zuma failed to uphold Constitution

The Presidency issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon to “correct media reports” regarding whether the Constitutional Court last week found Jacob Zuma had broken his oath of office.

The statement was sent to the media during the more than an hour long break of the National Assembly, which was due to debate a motion to remove Zuma from the Presidency.

In the statement, the Presidency writes: “The Presidency wishes to correct media reports wrongly stating that the judgement by the Constitutional Court found that President Jacob Zuma had broken his oath of office. The Constitutional Court did not make such a declaratory order.

“In fact, whereas the counsel for the EFF, the Applicant, specifically asked for the Constitutional Court to declare that the President had acted in violation of his oath of office, the Constitutional Court did not grant a declaratory order in those terms.”

Instead, the Presidency said, the Constitutional Court ruled that Zuma’s failure “to comply with the remedial action taken against him, by the Public Protector in her report of 19 March 2014, is inconsistent with section 83(b) of the Constitution read with sections 181(3) and 182(1)(c) of the Constitution and is invalid”.

In the body of the Constitutional Court’s judgment however, the following is stated: “The President thus failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. This failure is manifest from the substantial disregard for the remedial action taken against him by the Public Protector in terms of her constitutional powers.”

Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos commented on the statement on Twitter, saying the discrepancy was “semantics”.

— Pierre de Vos (@pierredevos) April 5, 2016

— Pierre de Vos (@pierredevos) April 5, 2016

— Pierre de Vos (@pierredevos) April 5, 2016

— Pierre de Vos (@pierredevos) April 5, 2016

Zuma’s oath of office as president of South Africa includes swearing to “obey, observe, uphold and maintain the Constitution and all other Law of the Republic”.

The Presidency closed its statement with the following: “We wish to request the media to report accurately and use the precise words of the Constitutional Court judgment on the matter in order not to mislead the public.”

Read the Presidency’s full statement here.

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