South African opposition parties petitioned the country’s highest court on Tuesday in a fresh bid to impeach President Jacob Zuma, who is battling multiple legal cases and corruption allegations.
According to AFP, The opposition asked the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg to order parliament to set up an investigation into Zuma’s conduct over publicly-funded upgrades to his private residence.
The court last year ruled that Zuma failed to “uphold, defend and respect” the constitution by refusing to comply with an anti-corruption watchdog that recommended he repay money spent on the residence.
At Tuesday’s hearing, lawyers argued that parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete should launch a process to determine if Zuma was guilty of an offence that could warrant impeachment.
Zuma has survived several parliamentary attempts to oust him from office, most recently last month when a vote of no-confidence against him was defeated.
In April last year Zuma easily withstood an impeachment vote after a stormy session of parliament when ANC lawmakers rallied to his defence
The 75-year-old is due to step down as head of the ruling ANC party in December, and as national president before the 2019 general election.
“What we are asking the court to do is to direct parliament to consider whether or not the conduct of the president is… impeachable,” opposition lawyer Tembeka Ngcukaitobi told the court.
“There should be an inquiry into the conduct of the president.”
Zuma fought for two years against demands that he should repay the money spent on his sprawling Nkandla homestead, until he was finally censured by the Constitutional Court.
He paid back some of the public funds spent on upgrades that included a chicken coop and a swimming pool.
In 2014, the Public Protector watchdog found that Zuma had “unduly benefited” from the multi-million dollar refurbishment.
Zuma faces many legal challenges even after leaving office, with the looming threat of almost 800 corruption charges against him being reinstated over a multi-billion dollar arms deal in the 1990s.
Opposition parties, lead by the Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters, hope to benefit from Zuma’s scandals at 2019 elections when the ANC risks losing power for the first time since coming to office in 1994.