Cope withdraws from Parliament

The Congress of the People (Cope) on Tuesday said it had resolved to withdraw from all parliamentary activities until the Constitutional Court provides clarity on how to further handle its judgment on the drawn out Nkandla debacle.

“COPE executive committee noted that the refusal of the ruling party in Parliament to act against the incumbent in the office, President [Jacob Zuma], made it guilty of contempt of court,” said spokesman Dennis Bloem.

“The committee therefore resolved not to allow any COPE representative in the National Assembly to take part in its proceedings until there is clarity from the Constitutional Court on how to proceed.”

Last week opposition parties stood in unison after an impeachment motion to remove Zuma from office failed. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) used its majority in the National Assembly assembly to thwart the move.

The opposition parties indicated that the failed impeachment was not the end of the Nkandla saga. The Democratic Alliance has reported the Speaker and ANC MPs to Parliament’s Ethics Committee.

They also intend to approach the Constitutional Court again for further clarity on its ruling that Zuma “failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution” when he ignored the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s remedial action directing him to pay for non-security upgrades at his Nkandla residence.

The approximately R250 million worth of upgrades paid for by taxpayers included and amphitheatre, cattle kraal and swimming pool.

The highest court in the land ruled last month that both Zuma and the National Assembly had failed in their duty to protect and uphold the country’s Constitution when they ignored the directives of Public Protector.

The ruling also affirmed the constitutional powers of the Public Protector, and ordered Zuma to pay back a portion of the money spent, which will be decided on by the Treasury.

Bloem said his party was determined “not to make itself guilty through participation in activities that are in contempt of court”.

“Our representatives cannot break their oath of office and to this end COPE, working with other like-minded opposition parties, will approach the Constitutional Court to seek clarity on the way forward.”

Cope is a breakaway party from the ANC. The party is represented by three MPs in Parliament, including its leader Mosiuoa Lekota, who was previously a member of the ANC. – African News Agency (ANA)

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