South Africans will know by the end of this week whether they are entitled to President Jacob Zuma’s full reasons for axing former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas.
The High Court in Pretoria will either on Thursday or Friday rule on the Democratic Alliance’s urgent application to force Zuma to provide reasons for his decision to reshuffle his Cabinet.
The matter was set for Tuesday but it was postponed to Thursday to afford the judge an opportunity to go through the heads of argument.
The party wants Zuma to provide a written record of decisions and reasons for the cabinet reshuffle. This is for its main legal bid for the decision to be set aside on the basis that it was invalid‚ irrational and unconstitutional.
The party believe Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle‚ especially the axing of Gordhan and Jonas‚ which led to the country’s junk status‚ was based on political considerations to put himself above the people of South Africa‚ which made it all the more important that he provide an explanation.
James Selfe‚ the party’s federal executive chairperson‚ said in a review application that one was entitled to the reasons before the decision maker when the decision was taken.
“The state has refused to hand over that to us so this is a compelling application to force the government to hand over the record of the decision to enable us to proceed with the review. The judge recognised the urgency of the application and undertook to give us a judgement either on Thursday or Friday‚” he said.
Selfe said they felt strongly about the matter as it was a principle of the Constitution that any action taken by the executive has to rational in order for it to be lawful.
He said the executive had a fair test of what was going to happen when Gordhan was fired from the Cabinet when they fired then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in 2015.
“So it was entirely predictable and for that reason irrational to take that decision and if it was not irrational‚ they have to show us on what basis it was rational‚ hence our desire to get the record of the decision and hence their reluctance to provide that‚” he said.
The State Attorney said in court papers that the DA impugned Zama’s cabinet reshuffle decision on the principles of irrationality and illegality but failed to provide a legal basis for the entitlement to the record.
“The President derives the power to appoint and dismiss Cabinet from the Constitution. It forms part of the decisions or deliberations that are protected by the same privilege that protects Cabinet minutes from disclosure. It is a decision about which there is no record of proceedings of the sort the applicant would be entitled to‚” the State Attorney contends in heads of argument.
– Tiso Black Star Group/TimesLIVE