Quote of the week

As seductive as certain perspectives of international law may appear to those who disagree with the outcome of the interpretative exercise conducted by this Court in the contempt judgment, sight must not be lost of the proper place of international law, especially in respect of an application for rescission. The approach that my Brother adopts may be apposite in the context of an appeal, where a court is enjoined to consider whether the court a quo erred in its interpretation of the law. Although it should be clear by now, I shall repeat it once more: this is not an appeal, for this Court’s orders are not appealable. I am deeply concerned that seeking to rely on articles of the ICCPR as a basis for rescission constitutes nothing more than sophistry.

Khampepe J
Zuma v Secretary of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector Including Organs of State and Others (CCT 52/21) [2021] ZACC 28 (17 September 2021)
20 September 2008

ANC and President in need of a constitutional adviser?

The ANC and the President seem to be rather confused about the clear provisions in the Constitution regarding what happens when a President decides to resign. At the news conference earlier today to announce the decision of the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) to “recall” President Mbeki, Gwede Mantashe said that the Constitution was silent about what must happen when a sitting President resigns and referred to “Parliamentary processes” that will deal with this situation.

Now the Presidency has issued a statement saying that he accepts the decision of the ANC and then continues:

Following the decision of the national executive committee of the African National Congress to recall President Thabo Mbeki, the president has obliged and will step down after all constitutional requirements have been met.

This seems rather perplexing as section 90 of the Constitution makes it very clear what happens when a President resigns. This section states that when a vacancy occurs in the office of President, an office-bearer in the order below acts as President:

  1. The Deputy President.
  2. A Minister designated by the President.
  3. A Minister designated by the other members of the Cabinet.
  4. The Speaker, until the National Assembly designates one of its other members.

If the President resigns (or if he dies or is removed by a vote of no confidence in terms of section 102) a vacancy occurs in the office of the President and this section kicks in. Simple as that. Parliament is not involved at all in the process of designating an acting President and there are no “Parliamentary processes” or “constitutional requirements” to be met. I am therefore not sure what the ANC and the President is talking about. Are they confused?

The Parliament only becomes involved if the President refuses to resign and a vote of no confidence is instituted in terms of section 102(2) of the Constitution or when a new President must be elected from amongst the members of the National Assembly within 30 days after the president’s resignation.

All that is required is for the President to announce his resignation after which an acting President – in the order set out above – will take over until a new President is elected. If the National Assembly decides not to elect a new President, an election must then be held within 90 days.

This all seems rather clear to me. Am I missing something or is there something else going on that these gentlemen talk about “parliamentary processes” and “constitutiona requirements”? I really do not understand.

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