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South Africa's President Jacob Zuma

South African parliament to debate Zuma’s impeachment motion Tuesday

South Africa’s parliament will debate a motion to impeach President Jacob Zuma, the National Assembly Speaker said on Sunday days after the country’s top court ruled the president had violated the constitution.

“The debate on that motion has been scheduled for Tuesday afternoon,” Baleka Mbete said a day after anti-apartheid veteran Ahmed Kathrada joined opposition leaders in calling for Zuma’s resignation.

The South African president had ignored orders from the public prosecutor to return some of the $16m in state funds that he used to renovate his mansion in Nkandla situated in KwaZulu-Natal province.

On Friday, 73-year-old Zuma in a televised address apologised and said he would pay back some of the money, as ordered. He said that he never knowingly or deliberately set out to violate the constitution.

Mmusi Maimane, leader of the opposition party Democratic Alliance, tabled the motion to impeach Zuma, who is facing arguably the biggest scandal since he took office in 2009. He has fended off accusations of corruption, influence peddling and rape in the past.

The impeachment proceedings are unlikely to be successful because of the Africa National Congress party’s strong majority in parliament, but the judicial rebuke may strengthen anti-Zuma factions within the ruling party to press for change.

The unanimous ruling by the 11-judge constitutional court  also criticised parliament for passing a resolution that purported to nullify Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s findings on Zuma’s private residence.

“The judgement makes sound, balanced and critical findings,” Speaker Mbete told journalists.