South Africa’s top court has ruled that parliament failed to hold president Jacob Zuma accountable for spending millions of dollars worth of state money on his private home.
Some $15m (£11.1m) in state money was spent on upgrading Zuma’s property.
Chris Jafta, a constitutional court judge who read out the ruling said:
We conclude that the assembly did not hold the president to account.
While there is no certainty that Zuma will be impeached, the constitutional court ordered parliament to set out rules for impeachment proceedings.
“The assembly must put in place a mechanism that could be used for the removal of the president from office,” added Jafta.
The court ruling cited a constitutional provision that outlines parliament’s right to “remove” a president from office by a two-thirds majority for a “serious violation” of the law, as well as a separate provision that a president’s constitutional obligations must be “performed diligently and without delay”.
While the ruling was backed by a majority, chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng disagreed, describing it as “judicial overreach.”
Zuma’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party said it will study the ruling and discuss it at a meeting on January 10.
He survived a no-confidence vote in August: 98 MPs voted against, compared with 177 in favour.
However, it was the most serious attempt to unseat Zuma after months of corruption allegations.
When he received the news that he would remain in power, Zuma said:
I’ve just come to say thank you to all of you. Those comrades who are in parliament needed the support from the membership. You came in your numbers to demonstrate that the ANC is there, is powerful, is big. It is difficult to defeat the ANC, but you can try.
If Zuma is not impeached, he is scheduled to remain president until the next general elections in 2019.