12 January 2018

South Africa: A Few Tips for Parliamentarians On Developing Rules for Impeachment of a Sitting President


The rules committee of the NA faces an extremely difficult task to determine exactly what types of conduct by the President would warrant impeachment. A related problem is that the construct of a reasonable person, often used in the law, is - of course - a fiction.

Late last year the Constitutional Court ordered the National Assembly (NA) to devise specific rules to deal with the impeachment of a sitting President. One of the tasks faced by the NA is to devise a set of criteria to determine what would constitute a serious violation of the Constitution or the law or serious misconduct. This is not an easy task, made more difficult by the fact that MPs will almost certainly draft these rules while asking themselves how the rules will impact on the possible impeachment of President Jacob Zuma. Below, I will try to develop some general criteria that might assist MPs as they struggle with this task.

As anyone who reads this column will know, section 89(1) of the South African Constitution allows (but does not require) the NA to remove the President from office through impeachment, but only by adopting a resolution with a supporting vote of at...

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