Court decision on cabinet reshuffle puzzling - Mkhize

2017-05-10 20:49
Zweli Mkhize

Zweli Mkhize

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Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma’s reasons for reshuffling his cabinet should have been interrogated in Parliament and not in the courts, ANC Treasurer General Zweli Mkhize said.

Mkhize spoke to News24 ahead of the South Gauteng High Court in Pretoria giving reasons why Zuma must submit his reasoning behind the midnight reshuffle that saw five ministers including Pravin Gordhan fired as finance minister, in a case brought by the Democratic Alliance

“So we [are] not saying the president shouldn’t have been asked why but I think that to take it to court is bordering on kind of overreach if you get that kind of decision,” Mkhize said.

Judge Bashier Vally said Zuma had to explain why he reshuffled his cabinet because of a rule governing high courts which relates to reviews of decisions.

The ANC said the decision for Zuma to provide reasons for his controversial reshuffle was “judicial overreach” and Mkhize agrees. He said political appointees were not governed by the Public Service or Labour Act like civil servants.

“We find this one to be quite uncomfortable because it strays into an area where it's more political decision making by the executive as opposed to what could have been ... administrative, so the question of judicial overreach arises in that kind of context," Mkhize said.

He said members of parliament should have rather used that forum to question the president.

“If people were asking him in Parliament, I think that would have been appropriate. If people asked him why did you appoint this person and not this person and raising it in Parliament, it would have been fair and that is the platform where he is supposed to account as the president appointed by that particular Parliament,“ Mkhize said.

Zuma’s decision to reshuffle cabinet divided the ANC top six with Mkhize, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Secretary General Gwede Mantashe criticising the decision, saying they were not consulted.

Possible to rescue alliance

However following an extended national working committee meeting, it was agreed that it was “a mistake” for the leaders to publicly criticise the president.

Mantashe in defending Zuma said the party was urging Zuma to appeal it as it would create a precedent and would be problematic going forward.

“With political appointees, it’s an executive, political decision which then gives the prerogative to the president to appoint individuals and release them from office,” Mkhize said.

In a surprise move on Wednesday the president’s lawyers requested for the DA to furnish the court with the very same report which the opposition party had been seeking from Zuma.

His lawyer Michael Hulley told News24 that the DA must respond to formal court processes.

"The notice has been served and it is a formal court process and must be dealt with formally. I don't think I want to comment on anything specifically,” he said.

The reshuffle also led to tripartite alliance partners calling for Zuma to step down. In an unprecedented move, Zuma was booed and heckled at Cosatu’s May Day celebrations.

Mkhize said they didn’t expect the heckling to be to that extent. It was the first time that the governing party’s president who traditionally addresses the Cosatu Worker’s day commemoration was not allowed to speak.

He said they were working at arranging a meeting between the ANC, Cosatu and the SACP to thrash out the issues they had raised.

“I don’t think this is the time [for] the alliance to be allowed to fracture and I think it is possible to rescue it so that it works,” Mkhize said.

Read more on:    cosatu  |  anc  |  jacob zuma  |  zweli mkhize  |  politics

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