Judgment forcing Zuma to explain Cabinet reshuffle shows state is not above the constitution‚ says analyst

The reasons given by Judge Bashir Vally in his judgment forcing President Jacob Zuma to explain his cabinet reshuffle is an indication that the state is not above the constitution‚ says constitutional analyst Shadrack Gutto.

Gutto said it opened up for scrutiny‚ laws that haven’t been used.

“The judgment if you analyse it is saying‚ the state is not above the law and that’s important to point out. Government‚ parliament and state institutions have to abide according to the constitution‚” said Gutto.

South Gauteng High Court Judge Bashir Vally said on Tuesday that an executive decision made by President Jacob Zuma can be reviewed.

Vally said this while giving reasons for an earlier judgment‚ in which he ordered Zuma to provide the Democratic Alliance with reasons as to why he had embarked on a cabinet reshuffle.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the president should appeal the judgment or take the reasons under review.

“This is a judicial overreach. The judgment and especially the reasons are political and it sets a dangerous precedent‚” said Kodwa.

Vally said the power of the president must be conferred with section 83 of the constitution that states that the president must uphold‚ defend and respect the constitution as well as promote unity of the nation.

“The executive power to appoint and dismiss cabinet ministers and deputy ministers was wide-ranging‚” said Vally in the judgement.

He said in his reasoning that the cabinet reshuffle had caused a great deal of consternation for many citizens. “It is no exaggeration to say that it was received with shock‚ alarm and dismay by many.”

The DA approached the court on an urgent basis‚ seeking to obtain the reasons why Zuma had removed former finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy‚ Mcebisi Jonas.

James Selfe‚ DA federal executive chairperson‚ said the organisation welcomed the ruling saying it was a great day for transparency of government as South Africans deserved answers.

“The DA trusts that President Zuma is readying himself to fully comply with the order‚ as South Africans deserve the answers that the record of decision should contain‚” said Selfe.

The judgment stated that Zuma had five days to furnish reasons and documents used to make the decision to fire Gordhan and Jonas.

“I think the judge is right on this and the judgment is standing on sound ground. The president has the right to appeal the decision‚” said Gutto.

The president was given 10 days to file opposing papers.

“The DA will then make a decision whether to proceed with our substantive motion to review the rationality of the president’s midnight reshuffle‚” Selfe said.

Zuma made the announcement on the cabinet reshuffle in a late night statement that said‚ “I have decided to make changes to the National Executive in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

“The changes bring some younger MPs and women into the National Executive in order to benefit from their energy‚ experience and expertise. I have directed the new Ministers and Deputy Ministers to work tirelessly with their colleagues to bring about radical socio-economic transformation and to ensure that the promise of a better life for the poor and the working class becomes a reality.”