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South Africa: Opposition bid to oust Zuma heads to Constitutional court

South Africa

Having managed to survive the many scandals that have plagued his administration, South African president Jacob Zuma’s political future may yet be determined by a Constitutional court ruling over whether the country’s parliament should hold a secret vote on an opposition motion of no confidence in Zuma’s presidency.

The opposition United Democratic Movement has filed an application at the country’s highest court arguing that since parliament uses secret ballot to elect the president, it should be able to use the same process to remove him.

“We believe that a secret vote will provide the safest space for every individual MP to be guided by his or her free conscience,” argued Bantu Holomisa, Leader of the United Democratic Movement at a joint opposition press conference on Friday in Johannesburg.

The Constitutional Court will rule on the matter after hearing arguments on Monday that a secret ballot is legal. But analysts say the court is unlikely to go further than ruling on the legality of the secret ballot as it would not want to be seen to be infringing on the powers of the legislature, reports Bloomberg.

The opposition filed a no-confidence motion last month after the 75-year-old president fired his respected finance minister, Pravin Gordhan which prompted two major international ratings agencies to downgrade South Africa’s credit rating to junk.

Zuma has come in for immense criticism over his leadership of the ruling African National Congress with calls from opposition parties as well as from within the ANC for him to step down.

“In terms of the ethics of good governance, promoting ethics of good governance, ANC continues to fail the nation,” Holomisa said.

Friday’s press conference comes on the heels of news that former Eskom boss, Brian Molefe has been reappointed to head the country’s power producing company.

Molefe who resigned as head of Eskom in November 2016 after he was named in former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s State Capture report will return to serve the rest of his tenure, local news portal, News24 reports.

The report found that Molefe favoured the wealthy Gupta family, which is in business with President Jacob Zuma’s son, by awarding coal-supply contracts and helping them buy Optimum Coal Holdings. But Molefe and Eskom denied any wrongdoing.

The ruling ANC has described Molefe’s return as “unfortunate and reckless” since none of the accusations against him have been set aside.

Leader of the Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane also told the press conference on Friday that: “The sovereignty of our nation has been donated to the private interests of a family. … Brian Molefe does not belong in being the CEO of Eskom. He should face criminal charges.”

The opposition parties, have planned a march on Monday May 15 to the Constitutional court where the arguments for and against the secret voting by MPs will be heard.

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