South African parliament defeats motion to remove president

AP News
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Posted: Nov 10, 2016 11:33 AM
South African parliament defeats motion to remove president

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa's parliament on Thursday defeated an opposition motion to remove President Jacob Zuma because of a series of scandals, including possible government corruption linked to the president and his associates.

The motion by South Africa's biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, was rejected by a vote of 214 to 126 after an often raucous debate in which rival lawmakers heckled and traded insults.

The ruling African National Congress party, which has a majority in the parliament, had said it would not support the opposition motion against Zuma, virtually ensuring its defeat. While some ANC members have urged Zuma to resign, it was unlikely that ruling party lawmakers would defy the party leadership to back the opposition move against the president.

"The only time we ever talk about our constitution in this house is when we debate how our president violated it," said Mmusi Maimane, leader of the Democratic Alliance.

Nomvula Mokonyane, the minister of water affairs and sanitation, said the opposition was trying to distract Zuma's government from dealing with poverty and other pressing concerns.

Last week, South Africa's state watchdog agency recommended that a judicial commission investigate the relationship that Zuma and some state officials had with the Guptas, a business family of Indian immigrants accused of meddling in the government for financial benefit. A watchdog agency report found possible ethical violations because the Guptas were allegedly involved in the removal and appointment of Cabinet ministers and directors of state-owned firms.

Zuma said he wasn't given a chance to provide "meaningful input" in the investigation.

In April, the parliament also rejected a motion to remove Zuma. That vote followed an apology by Zuma after the Constitutional Court ruled that he failed to uphold the constitution in a scandal over millions of dollars in state spending on his private home.

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Follow Christopher Torchia on Twitter at www.twitter.com/torchiachris