JOHANNESBURG, (Reuters) - South Africa’s parliament said on Sunday it would review its rules relating to removing the country’s president, after the constitutional court said on Dec. 29 that lawmakers had previously failed to hold President Jacob Zuma to account.
The court ruling has piled pressure on Zuma and his allies as his opponents within the ruling African National Congress (ANC) are pushing for him to be removed as head of state before his term ends in 2019, when national elections will be held.
Zuma is in a weakened position after Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected leader of the ANC last month, narrowly beating Zuma’s ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
There is widespread local media speculation that Ramaphosa’s faction in the ANC will push for Zuma to be removed as the country’s president in the coming weeks, although Zuma still has allies at the top layer of the party.
A parliamentary subcommittee will meet this week to discuss a draft procedure on the section of the constitution relating to the removal of a president and the draft will then be debated in the house, the National Assembly said in a statement.
The national assembly’s subcommittee will review a draft procedure drawn up in April 2016 that was never finalised and a 2015 study of impeachment proceedings of seven other parliaments around the world, the statement said.
Zuma, 75, has survived several no confidence votes in parliament over recent years, mostly relating to a string of corruption allegations. He denies any wrongdoing.
The constitutional court gave parliament six months to put in place a mechanism for removing a president after it said lawmakers failed to hold Zuma to account for a scandal relating to state-funded upgrades to his home.
The constitutional court ruled in 2016 that Zuma pay back some of the roughly $15 million in state money spent on ‘security upgrades’ on his sprawling country compound, which included a cattle pen, chicken run and a swimming pool.
Reporting by Joe Brock; Editing by John Stonestreet and Jane Merriman