President Jacob Zuma has established a pattern of misconduct defined by “irrational and unlawful behaviour, without proper regard for the Constitution” and must therefore be called to order via the Constitutional Court and be compelled to depart the presidency.
This is the view of the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) and My Vote Counts NPC (MVC) who have approached the Constitutional Court for relief against the President and the National Assembly. This can be seen as piling up pressure after the Democratic Alliance secured a court order for the president to file his reasons for the latest cabinet reshuffle.
The move will be met with an argument that certain groups are pushing the courts to encroach onto the executive arena.
The HSF and MVC said in a statement they firmly believe that if one has regard to the debacle surrounding the dismissal of Minister Nene in December 2015, to the Nkandla scandal, and to the latest cabinet reshuffle, the President has established a pattern of conduct. “This pattern is one of irrational and unlawful behaviour, without proper regard for the Constitution and with astonishing disregard for the situation of the poor and disadvantaged sections of society, who will be the first to suffer the economic consequences of his irrational actions.”
Therefore the organisation are approaching the highest court in the land requesting it :
- to review and declare the President’s decision dismissing Mr Pravin Gordhan and Mr Mcebisi Jonas as Minister and Deputy Minister of Finance respectively, unconstitutional and invalid and to set it aside;
- to declare that both the President and the National Assembly have violated their constitutional duties; and
- to direct the Speaker of the National Assembly to institute an investigation into the conduct of the President with a view to possible removal proceedings against the President, in terms of Section 89 of the Constitution.
The statement added that the National Assembly and its Speaker have failed to take the necessary steps against the President’s conduct. “The National Assembly has, in particular, failed in its duty to maintain oversight of organs of state and to hold them accountable, as required under Section 55(2) of the Constitution. For these reasons, we are launching this application against both the President and the National Assembly.
“The immediate reactions by the financial markets to the downgrading by international ratings agencies have been well publicised. But we are even more concerned at the longer term damage to the real economy. These downgrades will lead to higher borrowing costs for Government. The consequential increase in Government’s debt servicing costs will make less funding available for Government spending, particularly when annual economic growth is well under 1%. This will put pressure on State spending on education and training, human settlements, health and social protection, which already make up 56% of total Government expenditure. Inevitably, a general dampening of business confidence and a negative effect on investment decisions will in time lead to lower economic growth and fewer new jobs being created.”
Reactiing to a ruling by Judge Bashier Vally who order Zuma to furnish reasons for reshuffling his Cabinet the ANC said the judge was motivated by politics.
The ANC spokesperson was quoted saying “The Constitution of the Republic says the President must appoint ministers and deputy ministers and assign them roles. That decision, as well as the decision to dismiss a minister, is political.”
“The judge’s ruling and reasoning is political. This is a judge who has taken a particular political posture.
“It is not only judicial overreach, but undermines the judiciary itself.”