JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s parliament on Tuesday Apr. 5, debated an opposition motion to remove President Jacob Zuma because the country’s top court ruled that he had violated the constitution in a spending scandal.
The debate was raucous at times but the motion was unlikely to pass because it requires a two-thirds majority for approval. The ruling African National Congress, which has supported Zuma despite signs of internal division, has a comfortable majority.
Mmusi Maimane, leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance party, said “the ANC has lost its way” and described Zuma as a “broken president.”
Earlier, parliament speaker Baleka Mbete temporarily suspended the session after opposition lawmakers complained that she could not preside over the session because she is a close ally of Zuma and therefore isn’t impartial.
Zuma apologized after the Constitutional Court ruled that he failed to uphold the constitution in a scandal over millions of dollars in state spending on his private home. It also said the National Assembly, which is dominated by the ANC, failed in its obligations to hold the president to account.
The court said Zuma should have abided by a state watchdog agency’s recommendations that he pay back some money. Zuma has since pledged to reimburse an amount to be determined by the national treasury.
In remarks that some South Africans viewed as criticism of Zuma, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said Monday near Johannesburg that it is vital to uphold the constitution and that, in failing to do that, “we have moved away from our duty to serve our people.”
Zuma is already under scrutiny because of allegedly improper links to the Guptas, a wealthy business family in South Africa.
The ANC leadership has rallied behind Zuma, though analysts say the scandals could hurt the ruling party in local elections later this year.
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