CAPE TOWN– The National Assembly, the lower house of the South African Parliament, has decided to seek a legal opinion regarding the best mechanism to impeach a sitting President in accordance with Section 89 of the Constitution.

The decision came Thursday after the Rules Committee of the National Assembly failed to agree on the two draft proposals provided by a sub-committee which had considered proposals from various opposition parties to impeach President Jacob Zuma.

The sub-committee had proposed the establishment of a committee of all political parties being represented equally. The second option is for the appointment of a panel of retired judges to investigate if the President had violated the Constitution or the law.

In December, the Constitutional Court ordered the National Assembly to introduce proper mechanisms for the removal of a sitting President. The committee has reached a stalemate after members could not agree on the best mechanism that should oversee the fact-finding mission to determine if the President has broken the law.

The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is pushing for a panel of retired judges to take on the task. In its argument, the party believes that retired judges cannot be accused of being biased or acting in conflict of inteerst.

EFF Member of Parliament Mbuyiseni Ndlozi insisted that the committee should at all times not lose sight of the court judgment in its deliberations.

While the ruling African National Congress (ANC) says it is amenable to the EFF proposal, it was adamant that the same judgment was very clear in its logic that the impeachment of a sitting President can only be instituted by the National Assembly.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has always opposed the idea of what it calls out-sourcing the work of Parliament in the process of removing a President. In principle, according to IFP MP Narend Singh, the party agrees with the proposal to establish a committee consisting of MPs from various parties.

The Democratic Alliance (DA), the biggest opposition party in Parliament, says there is a huge dilemma, because even the experts can be biased at times. DA Chief Whip John Steenhusein says some due diligence in choosing the best option is required.

It was finally decided that the matter should be taken to the party caucuses and a legal opinion must be requested before a final draft is concluded. The Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, said there is a general agreement on some of the issues in this process.