Fact sheet: How to remove a South African president

In terms of the South African Constitution, the process for removing the president is clear and straightforward. 

According to section 89(1) of the Constitution, a president may only removed if:

  • They have committed a serious violation of the constitution or the law;
  • In the case of serious misconduct on behalf of the president; or
  • The president is unable to perform the functions of their office. 

According to the Constitutional Court’s ruling on Nkandla, President Jacob Zuma did, in fact, violate the South African Constitution with regards to his Nkandla estate. Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, when reading the court’s judgment on March 31, said: “The president failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution.”

Jacob Zuma may then be impeached by the National Assembly on these grounds. 

In order to remove Zuma from office however, the National Assembly of Parliament must adopt a resolution with a supporting vote of no less than two-thirds of its members. 

The ANC currently holds just under a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly. 

Of the 400 MPs in the National Assembly, 249 are ANC-aligned and 151 are aligned to the various opposition parties. 

At least 116 ANC MPs would have to vote to remove the president for Jacob Zuma to be impeached – assuming that the remaining 151 opposition party MPs vote unanimously to have him removed from the presidency.

Note: This story has been corrected to reflect that at least 116 ANC MPs would need to vote to remove President Jacob Zuma, not only 100 as previously stated.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


Sadtu calls for the closure of schools

Citing cases such as a school to which only four learners returned, to be met by 20 teachers, the union said Covid-19 is wreaking havoc on learning

SAA creditors give go-ahead on rescue plan

Unions and staff representatives have agreed to severance packages for about 2 700 employees who will lose their jobs.

Basic income grant on the cards as Covid-19 threat intensifies

The pandemic has triggered a global economic crisis that will leave many South Africans without income security

Reinstated Ingonyama Trust managers hit with retrenchment notices

The effect of Covid-19 and the land reform department’s freeze of R23-million because the ITB didn’t comply with budget submissions are cited as some of the reasons for the staff cuts

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday