Dismissal of President’s appeal on Cabinet reshuffle record of decision – James Selfe

DA believes every exercise of public power must be subject to principles of legality and rationality

DA welcomes ConCourt dismissal of President’s appeal on Cabinet reshuffle record of decision

18 September 2019

The DA welcomes the majority judgement penned down by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in the Constitutional Court today.

The DA believes that every exercise of public power must be subject to the principles of legality and rationality, especially the exercise of all of the President’s powers, which include decisions to appoint or dismiss Ministers and Deputy Ministers. In the absence of a rational explanation, the President’s decision to reshuffle his cabinet would be unlawful.

In April 2017, the DA filed an urgent application with the North Gauteng High Court seeking to force then-President Jacob Zuma to supply reasons for his executive decision to reshuffle Cabinet just after midnight on 31 March 2017, including the firing of then Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, and then Deputy Finance Minister, Mcebisi Jonas.

The effect of his decision on South Africa had a cataclysmic effect on the economy, the country and indeed, on the millions of unemployed South Africans. It led directly to two international rating agencies downgrading our country to junk status and our currency went into free-fall.

On the face of it, former President Zuma’s decision was patently irrational and unreasonable with predictable consequences, based on a similar decision he took in 2015 to axe then Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene.

In the intervening time, Zuma resigned and President Cyril Ramaphosa reappointed Mr Gordhan. Therefore the DA maintained that the matter became moot.

It was for this reason that the Application was withdrawn. However, President Ramaphosa deemed it fit to proceed with applications for leave to appeal the May 2017 North Gauteng High Court ruling, which found that former President Zuma should have provided the reasons and record of decision to axe Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas, during the now infamous midnight Cabinet reshuffle.

Today, the Constitutional Court confirmed that the matter is moot and the interest of justice does not require the Court to deal with the matter.

The DA has however long held that a President’s decision to reshuffle his/her Cabinet must be rational and cannot merely be on the basis of discretion alone, as this is often just an excuse to appoint individuals who serve for their own personal gain rather than the best interests of our country.

The DA will continue to hold the executive to account for their actions especially when these decisions have wide-reaching implications for our country and economy. South Africa deserves nothing less.

Issued by James Selfe, Federal Executive Chairperson, 18 September 2019