Presidency sets the record straight on suspension of Home Affairs DG

Johannesburg – Media reports that President Jacob Zuma supported the suspension of Home Affairs Director General Mkuseli Apleni are incorrect, said the Presidency on Thursday.

In a statement, the Presidency said Zuma had only clarified in an affidavit that the powers to suspend Apleni were delegated by policy to Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize.

Zuma's spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said Apleni filed an urgent application at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on September 26 in which Zuma and Mkhize were cited as the two respondents.

Apleni sought an order, among other things, declaring his suspension by the minister of home affairs invalid, said Ngqulunga.

"The alleged basis for the relief sought is that the minister acted outside of her authority and had no power to suspend Mr Apleni in that section 12(1) of the Public Service Act, 103 of 1994 ('the Public Service Act') provides that the appointment and other career incidents of the heads of department in the case of a national department shall be dealt with by the president," he said.  

Ngqulunga said: "The president, through his director general, filed an answering affidavit in which he made it clear that he has no intention of dealing with the merits of the allegations of misconduct leveled against Mr Apleni, as these are not within his personal knowledge."

Reports 'grossly inaccurate'

Ngqulunga said Zuma's affidavit focussed primarily on clarifying whether the minister of home affairs had the requisite authority to suspend Apleni.

"The president's position with regard to this question is that the authority was delegated to the minister of home affairs. This is apparent from chapter 8 of the senior management service handbook, 2003 ('the SMS Handbook').

"It is therefore clear from the president's affidavit that he only seeks to clarify that the minister was delegated the powers to suspend her director general, without going into the merits of the dispute between the minister and Apleni.

"It is therefore grossly inaccurate to report this clarification of the powers of the minister as the president's support for the suspension," said Ngqulunga.

Apleni appeared at the High Court on Tuesday where the matter was not heard because the judge had too much on her plate.

The matter was taken to the deputy chief justice on Thursday and it was decided that it would be heard on October 17, according to an Eyewitness News report.

On Tuesday Apleni's attorney SJ Thema said: "Apleni believes that the minister does not have the powers to suspend him... the crux of the case is that he is challenging the powers of the minister to suspend him."

Thema also told News24 that his client had filed a supplementary affidavit to deal with Mkhize's public utterances during an eNCA interview in which she said Apleni was "unstable and delusional". 

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