The Western Cape High Court has dismissed the Democratic Alliance’s bid to have the swearing in of President Jacob Zuma’s new Cabinet ministers interdicted.
Judge Owen Rogers ruled that the DA did not present a strong enough case based on facts for the court to intervene in the President’s prerogative to select his own Cabinet.
The DA’s advocate Anton Katz tried to argue that the party’s motion of confidence in Parliament will be redundant if the President’s reshuffle is allowed to go ahead.
Party leader Mmusi Maimane filed the motion on Thursday afternoon, before the President’s reshuffle at midnight.
Rational reasons are therefore required for Zuma’s reshuffle, which has yet to be given, or it risks damaging the debate of no confidence.
Katz also tried to rely on statements made by deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday that the reasons for Gordhan and other’s dismissals were “spurious”.
He said the swearing in of ministers, therefore, can’t go ahead until the President’s decision is reviewed, and the original Cabinet must be “held” until the no-confidence vote.
‘No requirement in law’
Counsel for the president Advocate Ismail Jamie said there is no requirement in law for the president to give reasons for a Cabinet reshuffle.
The court can pay attention to media speculation if it wants to, but the case ultimately comes down to legality and the president’s prerogative, Jaime said.
Jamie said that both Gordhan’s firing and Gigaba’s swearing in has already happened, as Gigaba is already a minister, and therefore nothing “magical” will happen at 18:00 on Friday.
“It’s done. Minister Gordhan won’t lose his job at 18:00 tonight. He lost it at 00:14 this morning.”
Ministers serve at the pleasure of the president according to the Constitution, and if the president decides he no longer wants someone in his Cabinet, “then that’s the end of it”, Jamie argued.
Rogers tested both counsellors but ultimately said the court was being asked to go further than it had ever gone before in interfering with a sitting President’s powers.
“This case goes to the heartland of the President’s ability to act and make decisions.”
He said whether the decision was good or bad was irrelevant. The court’s ruling also was not a vindication of Zuma’s decision to reshuffle, only that at this point in time, it could not intervene.
The court noted the DA’s intention to take Zuma’s reshuffle on judicial review and reserved a ruling on costs until the review is completed.