Quote of the week

Regard must be had to the higher standard of conduct expected from public officials, and the number of falsehoods that have been put forward by the Public Protector in the course of the litigation.  This conduct included the numerous “misstatements”, like misrepresenting, under oath, her reliance on evidence of economic experts in drawing up the report, failing to provide a complete record, ordered and indexed, so that the contents thereof could be determined, failing to disclose material meetings and then obfuscating the reasons for them and the reasons why they had not been previously disclosed, and generally failing to provide the court with a frank and candid account of her conduct in preparing the report. The punitive aspect of the costs order therefore stands.

KHAMPEPE J and THERON J
Public Protector v South African Reserve Bank (CCT107/18) [2019] ZACC 29 (22 July 2019)
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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