Presidency needs protection

THE conduct of the person of the president of South Africa is a matter of national interest imposed by the constitution at Section 89 which says "The National Assembly may remove the president from office only on the grounds of serious misconduct."

THE conduct of the person of the president of South Africa is a matter of national interest imposed by the constitution at Section 89 which says "The National Assembly may remove the president from office only on the grounds of serious misconduct."

By determining that the 'misconduct' of the president is important enough to cause the incumbent to be removed from office, the constitution imposed the duty on members of the National Assembly (NA) - acting on behalf of the electorate - to regularly evaluate this aspect of the performance of the incumbent.

May I point out that this provision relates only to the Office of the President and NOT any other member of Parliament. Regular members of Parliament have to pass the test of non-conviction for a crime and prison sentence without the option of a fine.

The test for Office of President is higher, It is misconduct.

Given this constitutional requirement and the legal test for regular members of Parliament a person who fails the test to occupy the Office of President might still qualify to remain on the benches of the National Assembly. That is of course subject to the party to which such individual belongs.

The Sowetan editorial February 15 raises a question of conscience: "successive generations will ask us what we did when the dignity of the Office of the President was being eroded." It is in an attempt to respond to the duty to protect the dignity of the Office of the President that the Congress National Committee of Cope mandated its national caucus to invite other parties and honourable members of the NA to vote for a motion of no confidence in the present incumbent.

The NA must choose between saving the Office of the President or the individual now occupying that office.

It is a sensitive responsibility and a matter of conscience for all sitting members of the NA and, a bit more for those of the ruling party.

On their shoulders - given their superior numbers in the NA - rest the ultimate outcome of the vote when it takes place!

We feel that the survival of the Office of the President of the Republic - the heritage of all future generations - must be placed far above the interests of any individual.

May God bless our country, South Africa!

Mosiuoa Lekota,

COPE President

X