Guest Column

EDITORIAL: Zuma’s losses mount

2017-05-07 06:25
President Jacob Zuma at the World Economic Forum in Durban. (Pic: Liesl Peyer, Fin24)

President Jacob Zuma at the World Economic Forum in Durban. (Pic: Liesl Peyer, Fin24)

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Those who identify themselves as die-hard supporters of President Jacob Zuma were up in arms on Thursday and declared that we might as well hand over the country to the judiciary to run after the Pretoria High Court ruled that Zuma must submit his reasons for dismissing Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas.

The DA applied to the court to compel Zuma to supply his record of the reasoning behind his disastrous midnight Cabinet reshuffle in March.

Many had expected the court to throw out the application on the basis that the president’s prerogative could not be interfered with.

The common view was that a contrary judgment would skirt dangerously close to violating the principle of the separation of powers.

Judge Bashir Vally will only give the reasons for the judgment on Tuesday.

However, the matter is far from complete.

After Tuesday, the DA may proceed with its application to review and possibly set aside Zuma’s decision.

Zuma’s lawyers can be expected to fight hard to protect his rights.

But whatever the final outcome, the good that came out of the court was the principle that transparency and accountability are always paramount in a constitutional democracy.

Zuma, who has had a bad run in his court cases, will probably wallow in self-pity and believe that the courts are out to get him again.

But the issue is bigger than him because whatever the precedent that will be set will be binding regarding future presidents, regardless of the party in power.

That the Constitution allows Zuma “prerogative” powers does not mean he has an unfettered ability to act as he chooses.

Legally, the issue must still be resolved, but, politically and economically, the reshuffle was a disastrous decision.

Zuma’s fellow ANC leaders told him that the decision was not made in the best interests of the country, but to benefit him and his cronies.

This presidential prerogative was not challenged during the tenure of Zuma’s predecessors precisely because, even if there were differences of opinion, there was not the suspicion that the country was being sold to private interests.

As Zuma himself said after he was booed on Monday, this is part of a maturing democracy.

Read more on:    pretoria high court  |  da  |  pravin gordhan  |  jacob zuma  |  mcebisi jonas  |  cabinet reshuffle  |  democracy
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