If South Africa is a true democracy, then President Jacob Zuma should resign or be impeached following the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruling, this is the view held by opposition parties and political analysts.
The ConCourt made the groundbreaking ruling on a case brought by opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters.
The ConCourt, in its ruling, found that President Zuma failed to protect and defend the constitution of the country, a clear assault to the country’s sacred laws.
“The court has found that the President was in breach of his constitutional mandate and so was the National Assembly. The President failed to uphold and defend the constitution,” read Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
The unanimous ruling by the country’s highest court sends a clear message to the ruling African National Congress that neither the party, ad hoc committees nor the President is above the law.
The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has filed a motion of impeachment.
“Zuma’s action amounts to a serious violation of the Constitution & constitutes grounds for impeachment. If the ANC ignores the Constitution and doesn't impeach Zuma, it puts him above the country,” DA’s Mmusi Maimane told reporters after the conclusion of the ruling.
"The fact that President Zuma failed to respect and uphold the constitution is enough basis for him to step down. There should be no special treatment for the President," said Economic Freedom Fighters' leader Julius Malema.
This judgment is coming at a time when the ruling party is fractured with Zuma loyalists losing ground. The ruling will further see Zuma being isolated from the party he captured at Polokwane almost a decade ago.
Firebrand trade unionist, Zwelinzima Vavi, weighed in calling masses to push for Zuma’s removal from power.
“We are not a broken society and we are not a banana republic. We also cannot rely on the ANC to do the right thing of recalling Zuma and themselves as they are also implicated, the masses should take the action,” Vavi told reporters.
Vavi added that, anyone who thinks the ANC will recall Zuma is dreaming adding it is up to the masses to take action and address corruption and state capture by what he alleges is a small Indian family. Vavi says it is time for a democratic regime change.
Corruption Watch applauded the Constitutional Court judgment which finds that the rulings of the Public Protector were binding and can only be set aside upon judicial review.
"The judgment reinforces the provision in the Constitution for all organs of state to protect and promote the Chapter 9 institutions. This includes taking positive steps to safeguard the efficacy of the Public Protector’s rulings, as well as to defend that office’s principal role of protecting the public against state maladministration."
Congress of the People leader (COPE) Mosiuoa Lekota says the ANC of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo were supposed to reach to its conscience and do the right thing.
"It doesn't matter how [big a] majority you have in Parliament, if that majority is not consistent to the provisions of the Constitution, it is irrelevant," Lekota made the call just after the ruling.
Now President Zuma is herding to the lion’s den to get a determination of how much he should pay. Unlike the parliament where he has good numbers, the ConCourt has ruled that the Treasury will make the determination.
In the past few weeks the Deputy Finance Minister, Mcebisi Jonas ‘implicated’ Zuma’s allies, the Guptas, in state capture. Jonas's boss, Pravin Gordhan, has also not seen eye to eye with SARS's boss an alleged allay of Zuma.
The rand has reacted positively to the ConCourt ruling. This could be a message to the moderates within the ANC that if the right decisions are taken, the country could see its glorious days again but if not, the worse might be before us.
The ANC has responded by saying it "has noted and respects the unanimous judgment delivered by the Constitutional Court today in the matter relating to compliance with remedial action set out in a report of the Public Protector. The Constitutional Court is and remains the guardian of the Constitution of the Republic and the final arbiter on matters before it, hence the ANC welcomes the clarity provided by the Court on the binding nature of the powers of the Public Protector. The ANC once again reaffirms our full confidence in the judiciary and the upholding rule of law in South Africa. Given the serious nature of the judgment delivered, the African National Congress will study it in detail and comment further in due course".
Whatever its final decision is it won't be easy as local government elections are on the horizon. The ANC's top six are meeting currently.