EFF: Zuma Is Gone, Now Dissolve Parliament

Following the resignation of Jacob Zuma as the president of the republic on Wednesday night, the Economic Freedom Fighters hosted a press conference on Thursday, where the party leader Julius Malema said that the 5th parliament must still be dissolved.

Malema said that the EFF would not be a part of the election of African National Congress president Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday to the state presidency, but would be joining the State of the Nation address, due on Friday. He further said that the party would be supporting the Democratic Alliance’s motion to dissolve parliament, so that fresh national elections could be held.

He said: “We are going to join the DA motion on the dissolution. It was a decision of a meeting of opposition parties and therefore as people who are loyal to their own decisions, we are loyal to this decision, the DA has submitted a motion, we’ll support them. And we think on the dissolution of parliament, the discussion starts today. There shouldn’t be an election of a president. There must be a discussion on the dissolution.”

The ANC’s 62% majority in parliament means that it will not need any opposition votes to elect Ramaphosa, and after the party’s national executive committee ‘recalled’ Zuma on Tuesday, and resolved that its newly-anointed president should replace him. Whereas in the past the party members of parliament had been whipped to back Zuma against motions of no confidence brought against him, they will now be required to abide by the new decision.

Malema continued: “The constitutional court found that this parliament did not play its role, particularly when it came to holding Zuma accountable. We in this parliament are the same as Jacob Zuma and so therefore no one amongst us qualifies to be a president of South Africa if Zuma doesn’t qualify to be a president of South Africa.”

“This parliament failed to discharge its responsibilities, and if anyone wants to be president of South Africa, let’s go to the elections, let’s get a new mandate. Let it be the 6th parliament, not the 5th parliament. The 5th parliament is guilty the same way as Zuma is guilty. We cannot be the respecters of the constitution when it comes to Zuma, but when it comes to us, we want to pretend that we are clean,” he said.

“The court found that we did not discharge our constitutional duties in the protection of the Public Protector in holding Zuma accountable, that was with regards to Nkandla. The court comes again [and] says in the impeachment case, ‘you failed in your duties to develop the rules that will hold Zuma accountable’.  So we’ve been a parliament which has been busy over nothing accept the protection of Jacob Zuma. So we should just go back and get a fresh mandate. We can be cleansed by the election process. Otherwise we can’t be cleaned by ourselves. If the masses say ‘we love you with your constitutional violations, go back’, we will come back. So it must be understood in that way,” Malema said.

He also brought up Ramaphosa’s cosy relationship with the business world, as well as his tie-in to the Marikana massacre, the clearest indication yet that the EFF has found a line of attack against the new ANC president (and presumptive state president) who has otherwise enjoyed widespread public adulation since he won the elective race at the ANC’s 54th national conference in December.

Malema’s comments also raise the spectre of yet another disrupted State of the Nation Address on Friday. If the EFF believes that the 5th parliament is illegitimate, it could argue that its election of Ramaphosa is also illegitimate, and he should not have the right to address the national assembly.

Watch the full press conference below:

Featured image by Rumana Akoob

1 Comment
  1. Desmond Mlatha says

    The euphoria over the resignation of former president Jacob Zuma is understandably accompanied by great expectations and hopes on the supposedly “new” Cyril Ramaphosa administration. However, a fundamental question that needs to be answered is being glossed over in the rush to put the disastrous Zuma legacy behind us and clean up his mess. South Africa is a constitutional democracy, and there is a broad consensus in society that Zuma had to go because of his numerous constitutional violations, and suspected involvement in criminal activities that undermined the authority and legitimacy of the state.

    If the removal of Jacob Zuma was about defending the constitution and the integrity of the state as argued by some, then it will be important to take such an argument to its logical conclusion. It is common knowledge that parliament played a crucial role in defending and enabling Zuma in his destructive path over the years. Whether one talks of the Nkandla saga and how parliament reacted to the subsequent scathing judgement delivered by the constitutional court on both the president and parliament for their failure to uphold the constitution; or one talks of the contempt, in violation of the constitution, with which both the president and parliament treated the former public protector (Adv Thuli Madonsela) for her adverse findings relating to the former president’s delinquency – our parliament’s involvement in Zuma’s disgraceful misrule is there for all to see.

    So, the fundamental question that needs to be answered, now that the sword has fallen on Jacob Zuma for his constitutional delinquency, is how is parliament going to be held accountable for its role in the Zuma mess? Must the country turn a new page and move on as if nothing has happened simply because we want to move out of the Zuma mess as quickly as possible to avoid the political instability and economic turmoil currently engulfing our country? Are we saying it is permissible to violate the constitution, without consequences, under certain circumstances, if we deem the violators (parliament) too big and the process of bringing them to book too cumbersome or daunting? The implications here are that we might be setting a precedent that will allow our parliament to be regarded as an exceptional institution that can get away with constitutional violations using flimsy excuses. Nothing and no one must ever be given the impression that they can violate the constitution of the republic or hold it to ransom without consequences.

    The question of where or to whom parliament, the representatives of the people account, and how it should account for its violation of the constitution, in defence of Zuma’s misrule, must be answered if the country is serious about making a clean break with its recent past. State capture did not just happen under the watch of the 4th parliament; it was made possible by the actions and/or inactions of parliament. Up until recently, parliament not only failed, but literally refused to hold the executive accountable and instead chose to act as the watchdog of the executive in the legislature. Now that parliament seems to be fixing the errors of its ways; should the country simply forget its role in state capture and move on for the sake of progress? In a constitutional democracy, no constitutional violation must be allowed to happen without any constitutional consequences following such violation(s). To do so will be to set a precedent that will allow for the repeat of such a violation(s); and repeated violations, that go unanswered, undermine the very fibre of our constitutional democracy in the long run. No individual, office or institution is too big to be brought to book for violating the constitution in a constitutional order – it is that logic that hold everything together.

    If the executive that is constituted by the president who is elected by parliament in the legislature accounts to parliament, should it not then follow that parliament, as an institution, should be accountable to the electorate (the citizens) who vote to fill the 400 parliamentary seats populated by political party representatives through the proportional representative system? Parliamentarians, as individuals, might owe their parliamentary seats to the political parties through the party list system, but parliament, as an institution, is accountable to the people of South Africa as a whole i.e. the electorate. Therefore, this 4th parliament of South Africa owe the people of this country an explanation on what it has done or intend doing about its violation of the constitution that was pointed out by the constitutional court. Secondly, parliament cannot be both a judge and prosecutor in its own trial.

    If we are to protect and nurture our democracy, and uphold constitutionalism with all its positive principles of accountability, transparency, rationality etc. then it is the constitutional duty of the electorate to hold parliament accountable as and when it violates the constitution without having to wait for the general elections that happens once every five years. The general elections are not about dealing with constitutional violations, but about electing parliamentarians into the legislature on the basis of what their political parties promise to deliver. Equally the question of timing and resources cannot hold water as an effective scare crow when it comes to constitutional matters. If South Africa is to effectively deal with the Zuma legacy of misrule, it must earnestly look into all the violations that took place and address them in a concrete manner that will ensure there is never a repeat of such. Whether the current parliament must be dissolved and a new parliament elected in its place or some sort of referendum be held to decide the issue might be used opportunistically by the opposition or deliberately politicized by the ruling party. But ultimately, the question that cannot be ignored or wished away, without any negative consequences for our constitutional order; is how parliament is going to be held accountable for its role or inaction in the whole state capture debacle and the general misrule under Zuma that it oversaw?

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