29 December 2017

South Africa: Parliament On Constitutional Court Judgment On Failure By Speaker to Hold President Accountable

press release

Parliament Statement on Constitutional Court Judgment on Alleged Failure by National Assembly Speaker to Hold President Accountable

Parliament notes the judgment of the Constitutional Court in a matter between the Economic Freedom Fighters and others and the Speaker of the National Assembly.

The relief sought by the applicants was for the Court to declare that the Speaker failed to hold the President accountable for violating the Constitution by failing to implement the 2014 report of the Public Protector. They also wanted a Court order compelling the Speaker to convene a committee of Parliament or other independent body to investigate the President's conduct and determine whether he is guilty of an offence warranting Parliament exercising its powers to remove him in terms of section 89 of the Constitution.

The Court neither declared that the Speaker failed to hold the President accountable nor ordered her to establish an impeachment committee of the type described by the applicants.

In this regard, the Court has held the National Assembly collectively responsible for not meaningfully implementing Section 89 of the Constitution.

The Court has thus ordered that the Rules of the Assembly be amended without delay to comply with Section 237 of the Constitution, which instructs that all Constitutional obligations be performed diligently and without delay. The National Assembly Rules Committee had already initiated a process, as part of its overhaul of rules, to outline a procedure to be followed in implementing section 89 of the Constitution.

In this regard, Parliament will ensure finalisation of the Assembly's rules, in line with the Court's order.

We note and agree with the strong reservation and caution underscored by both the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice in the minority judgment regarding encroachment of the judiciary into the internal functioning of the national legislature. Parliament, however, respects the majority judgment and will comply fully with it.

Issued by: Parliament of South Africa

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