Outa takes aim at MPs after giving Zuma 'no room to hide'

28 June 2017 - 16:16 By Farren Collins
Opposition benches in the National Assembly remained largely empty as MPs boycotted President Jacob Zuma’s reply to the presidency budget on June 01, 2017 in Cape Town. File photo.
Opposition benches in the National Assembly remained largely empty as MPs boycotted President Jacob Zuma’s reply to the presidency budget on June 01, 2017 in Cape Town. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images / Beeld / Jaco Marais

MPs who back President Jacob Zuma in the forthcoming vote of no confidence could face legal action.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse‚ or Outa‚ will seek advice on what form of litigation to institute against MPs who support the president in the vote‚ which is likely to take place after the parliamentary recess which ends in August.

Outa chairman Wayne Dunvage made the announcement on Wednesday at a press conference in Cape Town‚ where the civil society group unveiled a dossier it claims contains enough evidence to ensure the president’s removal from office.

“We need to contemplate all avenues‚ and one of them is litigation‚” said Duvenage. “The other [avenue] is looking at parliament and asking the court to make the judgments that are required to compel parliament to exercise its duty.”

Duvenage said he did not want the secret ballot National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete is under pressure to approve. An open ballot would “give us a lot more exposure as to who those transgressors are”.

But legal experts said MPs could not face any form of court action over the way voted in the motion of no confidence because it is not a disciplinary procedure.

Paul Hoffman‚ director at the Institute for Accountability‚ said the no-confidence vote was a “popularity contest” where the president’s conduct was not being judged.

“There is nothing that can be done either in civil law or criminal law if a person makes a political judgement that it is okay to support a crooked president in a no-confidence motion‚ because it is a political decision‚” said Hoffman.

“The same does not apply in a vote on removal from office‚ which is a disciplinary procedure.”

Outa handed the 176-page dossier‚ titled No Room To Hide: A President Caught in the Act‚ to parliament on Wednesday with a request that each MP be given a copy.

In the document — which attempts to summarise all the evidence of state capture from reports‚ media exposés‚ affidavits and the #GuptaEmails — Outa says Zuma mismanaged his cabinet in a manner that has had a detrimental effect on the country and the economy; used or manipulated state resources or appointments to avoid prosecution on at least 783 charges; wilfully and maliciously lied or misled Parliament and the nation; and abused his position to enrich himself‚ his family‚ his friends and his cronies.

The extensive document‚ with six annexures‚ is made up of several chapters outlining ties between the Gupta and Zuma families; the alleged Zuma-Gupta plundering of public resources through state-owned enterprises; and the circumstances around the appointment and removal of various ministers.

The report said South Africans‚ through their elected representatives in the National Assembly‚ were entitled to hold the president to his oath of office and the obligations imposed on him and his cabinet by the constitution.

Said Duvenage: “All we want is for MPs to read the dossier‚ understand it and digest it. If‚ after that‚ they vote to keep the president in power ... we can confidently say that [they] have not exercised your constitutional duties to this country.”

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