‘I didn’t apologise over reshuffling’ – Mantashe

 ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has dismissed as a lie President Jacob Zuma’s claim that he and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa apologised for stating that they were not consulted before last month’s cabinet reshuffle.

Zuma has told the Constitutional Court that Ramaphosa and Mantashe publicly apologised for stating that they were not consulted about the reshuffle in which several cabinet ministers and deputy ministers were axed.

In his heads of argument response filed on Friday to the UDM’s bid to have the vote of no confidence in Zuma done through secret ballot, the president said Ramaphosa and Mantashe’s initial objection “cannot be relied on as the two subsequently publicly apologised for making them”.

However, yesterday Mantashe told Sowetan: “That is a lie. We didn’t apologise.”

Asked if he was calling Zuma a liar, Mantashe said “Ok, bye bye” and hung up.

Earlier this month, Mantashe also refuted claims by Zuma ally and Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane that he, Ramaphosa and the ruling party’s treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize were asked to apologise during the ANC’s extended national working committee (NWC) meeting for telling the country that they were not consulted before the reshuffle.

Zuma said the UDM was “relying on views of persons that have expressed their views on various media platforms”.

“The views of these individuals do not constitute evidence that warrants any judicial notice. Nor are they experts in the field of government systems,” Zuma said.

He added that the country’s constitution does not require the consequences of such a lawfully taken decision [the reshuffle] to have particular positive or negative responses to it.

“All the law requires of organs of state, including the president, is that the exercise of public power must be authorised by the law,” he said.

Zuma described the UDM’s court case as an “abuse of process”.

The UDM wants the country’s highest court to declare that motions of no confidence must be decided by secret ballot and that National Assembly rules are unconstitutional to the extent that they preclude secret ballots.

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) is among the parties that have applied to join the UDM’s case as friends of the court.

Casac said National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete is subject to an “irreconcilable conflict of interests that makes her obligation in respect of a no-confidence motion impossible to perform” in the manner required by the constitution.

“She cannot at once seek, as ANC chairperson, to ensure that her party speaks with one voice, and, as speaker, to act impartially in ensuring that all members, including ANC members, are entitled to vote according to their constitutional obligations,” Casac said in its submission.

The Unemployed People’s Movement and the Shosholoza Progressive Party also support the UDM’s case and have applied to be admitted as friends of the court.

Ramaphosa’s spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said the ANC had released a statement on the issues raised after its NWC through the secretary-general.

Presidency spokesman Bongani Ngqulunga did not respond to request for comment.

By Loyiso Sidimba – SowetanLIVE