South African court orders Zuma to explain reason for cabinet reshuffle

Posted May 06, 2017

The High Court in Pretoria has ordered Zuma to hand over to the Democratic Alliance (DA) within five working days the record of decisions related to his recent Cabinet reshuffle, which includes correspondence, contracts, memoranda, advice and recommendations.

Judge Bashier Vally on Thursday ruled that Zuma must hand over all records explaining the reason why he made changes to 20 positions in his Cabinet at 00:00 on March 30. Advocate Ishmael Semenya also held that Zuma's legal team had, in fact, already provided the DA with his reasons for the reshuffle, by way of a letter that vaguely referred to the ANC's mandate derived from voters.

Zuma, who came to power in 2009, has been accused of corruption but survived several no-confidence votes in parliament thanks to his African National Congress (ANC) majority in the National Assembly.

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The ANC said in a statement that the appointment of ministers and deputies, as well as reshuffling of the cabinet, was "a discretionary and political decision of the president".

Zuma's spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said the president would not comment on matters before the courts.

Gordhan's axing was said to be based on an "intelligence" report that showed he was allegedly plotting against Zuma.

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But the courts would not be able to properly consider an upcoming application by the DA to review the firings without records, the party's advocate Steven Budlender said, relying heavily on the precedent set in the spy tapes matter.

"There is a another ratings agency that is going to make an announcement about whether to downgrade South Africa, and we are hoping that the court can play with us in reviewing the rationality as soon as possible", the party's James Selfe said outside the court.

Meantime, in Durban, Zuma told the World Economic Forum for Africa yesterday that he reshuffled the cabinet to give young people a chance at leadership. Zuma has not responded to the ruling yet.

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In court papers, Mr Zuma had said the reshuffle was an executive decision that deserved protection from disclosure.