Reshuffle ruling reprieve for president
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has, for now, survived another attempt to answer why he suddenly reshuffled his cabinet in the middle of the night at the end of March.
Yesterday, the high court in Joburg granted Zuma leave to appeal an earlier ruling that he reveal reasons why he reshuffled his cabinet.
Judge Bashier Vally’s order means Zuma will approach the Supreme Court of Appeal to reverse the original judgment.
In the reshuffle, former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas were removed from their positions. At the time, there were murmurs that an intelligence report was the reason for the reshuffle.
The DA filed an urgent application in April to force Zuma to disclose his reasons for reshuffling cabinet and Judge Vally ruled in favour of the application.
In explaining his ruling, the judge said: “It is no exaggeration to say that it was received with shock, alarm and dismay by many. One reason for this is that it came on the heels of an extensive public complaint that incessant malversation had embedded itself in our public life and that the country was mired in the quicksand of corruption.”
Zuma’s lawyers stated that the president argued that Rule 53 of the Uniform Rules of the Court do not permit the review of an executive decision.
Rule 53 indicated that a person who sought to review a decision must be provided with all records that were used to make a decisions.
Ishmael Semenya, SC, for Zuma, said last month’s order had amended the rule to include the provision of the record, even for an executive decision.
In a written judgment yesterday, Vally said: “I have come to the conclusion that there is no reasonable prospect that another court would come to a different conclusion.
“However, it is a notorious fact that the public interest in this case… has been wide, deep and intense. I’m entitled to take judicial notice of this fact.”
Judge Vally said arguments by Zuma that releasing his reasons for the reshuffle would fundamentally impact on how his office operated stood.
“The DA was not able to dispel or discredit these claims,” the judge said.
“In these circumstances, this matter should be brought to the attention of a higher court. It’s one of those very rare cases where the public interest in the matter is so high and the order has significant impact on the operations of the Presidency that it’s necessary a higher court… look into the matter afresh.”