Opposition move to have Speaker Mbete recuse herself from Zuma impeachment

The Nelson Mandela statue in front of the National Assembly after the 2016 budget speech. (David Harrison, M&G)

The Nelson Mandela statue in front of the National Assembly after the 2016 budget speech. (David Harrison, M&G)

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Democratic Alliance (DA) on Tuesday tried to have National Assembly Speaker Baleke Mbete recuse herself from presiding over a motion to impeach President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday.

At the beginning of the sitting, EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu requested Mbete to recuse herself, saying: “You must recuse yourself as the presiding officer today because the Constitution has found against you in terms of the court case the EFF took to the Constitutional Court that you have violated the Constitution, that you have disregarded the laws of this Parliament and you are still sitting there.”

“You don’t deserve to be in that seat….,” a defiant Shivambu said.

Shivambu was referring to the Constitutional Court ruling last week which found that both Zuma and the National Assembly had violated South Africa’s highest law when it failed to implement a directive by the public protector for the President to pay back the money used to effect non-security upgrades to his Nkandla residence.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen supported the call by the EFF, saying Mbete was the first respondent in the Constitutional Court case and therefore “a party to the crime that took place”.

“I would ask you madam speaker in the interests of restoring the credibility of this Parliament that you make the decision to invoke rule 15 and ask the deputy speaker to preside over the debate today.”

Defending Mbete, ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said there was nothing in the Constitution which provided for Mbete to recuse herself, adding the findings of the court were against the National Assembly and not against the Speaker.

“I therefore urge you Speaker to remind these members to read this judgment if they’ve forgotten what the judgment is about,” Mthembu said.

Other opposition parties, including the Inkatha Freedom Party and the United Democratic Movement supported the calls for Mbete to let deputy speaker Lechesa Tsenoli preside over the debate.

Mbete dug her heels in, insisting the Constitutional Court judgment was against the NA and not her.

When a vote was proposed, an angry EFF leader Julius Malema jumped up saying MPs should “listen to superior logic and stop voting things”. He went as far as branding ANC MPs “bloody voting cattles”. – African News Agency (ANA)


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