DA welcomes ConCourt judgment on president’s powers to fire ministers
The DA said the judgement would ensure the exercise of public power by heads of state would be rational and legal.
JOHANNESBURG - The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Wednesday welcomed the Constitutional Court judgment dismissing President Cyril Ramaphosa’s leave to appeal an order that his office should give reasons for firing ministers.
The DA said the judgment would ensure the exercise of public power by heads of state would be rational and legal.
The party approached the court in a bid to force former President Jacob Zuma to reveal why he reshuffled his Cabinet.
That reshuffle led to the axing of several ministers, including then-finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas, which rattled markets and led to ratings agencies downgrading the country to junk status.
The ConCourt’s judgement meant that the High Court’s order stood. It had ordered that Zuma should provide the record of decision to axe Gordhan and Jonas.
It also meant that if the president fired a minister or deputy minister in future, he could be asked to provide reasons of why he made such a decision.
In a statement, the DA welcomed the judgement, saying it believed that every exercise of public power should be subject to the principles of legality and rationality, especially the exercise of the president’s powers.
"The DA believes that every exercise of public power must be subject to the principles of legality and rationality, especially the exercise of all of the president’s powers, which include decisions to appoint or dismiss ministers and deputy ministers. In the absence of a rational explanation, the president’s decision to reshuffle his Cabinet would be unlawful," the party said.
The party said it would continue to hold the executive to account for its actions, especially when those decisions had wide-reaching implications for the country and economy.
Meanwhile, a constitutional law expert said the judgement would strengthen good governance.
Constitutional law expert Phephelaphi Dube said heads of state would now be under pressure to remove ministers based on rational and legal reasoning.
“If you consider the positives of that judgment, it obviously affirms transparency as a foundational value and it also adds an extra layer of accountability for decisions that the state is going to take [in future] and it does strengthen good governance,” she said.
Dube also said the ruling by the ConCourt would prove problematic for the sitting president.
“It short-circuits any review application. So, in a sense, it does traverse the entire notion of separation of powers. It means that there would be no area for the president to argue that his exercising his political prerogative.”