home Featured, Politics President Zuma can fire ministers without disclosing reasons 

President Zuma can fire ministers without disclosing reasons 

By BO Staff Writer

On Thursday, the North Gauteng High Court ruled that President Jacob Zuma must, within 5 days, submit his reasons for removing Pravin Gordhan as Minister of Finance as well as Mcebisi Jonas as his Deputy Minister on March 31 this year.

Moreover, the President has been ordered to submit all documentary and other evidence that are related to him reshuffling cabinet and firing the two ministers. The court announced that reasons for its decision will be delivered on Tuesday, May 9.

The High Court hearing constituted an interlocutory to the main application that is scheduled for hearing in June this year in terms of which the Democratic Alliance (DA) is seeking a reversal of President Zuma’s decision to remove both Gordhan and Jonas as suggested above.

In terms of Chapter 5, Section 91 (2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act No. 108 of 1996), “[t]he President appoints the Deputy President and Ministers, assigns their powers and functions, and may dismiss them”.

Also, according to Section 93 (1) (a) read with ss (b) of the Constitution, “[t]he President may appoint any number of Deputy Ministers from among the members of the National Assembly to assist the members of the Cabinet … and may dismiss them”.

Evidently, the President is not required by the Constitution to consult with anyone before appointing or removing any Minister or Deputy Minister from office.

In President of the Republic of South Africa and Others v SARFU and Others (SARFU) the Constitutional Court held that the President is not entitled “to abdicate the powers conferred upon him by the Constitution” via delegation of his powers in this regard to anyone else. The importance of this decision read with the powers of the President in terms of section 9(2) of the Constitution is that the powers to appoint and remove cabinet ministers rests entirely and solely in the President of RSA. In terms of the SARFU decision, the President is precluded from acting under the instructions (being “under dictation”) of others without giving due consideration to the subject matter at hand. Moreover the President is prevented from delegating the authority to make that decision (“pass the buck” so to speak) to anyone else.

The Court, it seems, has disregarded the sole power of the President in terms of the Constitution to remove ministers and deputy ministers. Furthermore, it misdirected itself in disregarding the fact that the decision of the President to remove the ministers was, as indicated by Zuma, an executive one that “deserved protection from disclosure”. The Court erred in the order it made by interfering with an executive and political decision. Quite clearly there are strong compelling grounds of appeal which should be followed through by the President.

In his submissions on the transformation of the financial sector to the Standing Committee on Finance and the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry on May 3, Black First Land First (BLF) President, Andile Mngxitama made the following revealing remarks regarding the structural logic of the way the courts operate and are being employed in relation to the state:

“What about the Judiciary?

Last month Justine Lewis informed this very committee that even the courts are captured by WMC. Lewis presented shocking evidence that Johann Rupert’s influence goes up to the office of the highest court in the land.  He told this committee that in, “2016  The Hawks judge approved an investigation especially with regard to the following concerns;

i)        The allegations of extortion against the wheel chair bound widow by her SA bank in charge of protecting her pension left in trust for her late husband

ii)      The alleged use of bribery of court officials

iii)    The permission for access to evidence from the office of the chief justice re allegations of trial fixing, and the alleged protection of the banks and businessman Johan Rupert by the same office for obstructing the course of justice by refusing this access”.

 

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