Rule of court allows for Cabinet reshuffle to be reviewed, judge says
Judge Bashir Vally says rule 53 of the uniform rules of court could be applied to legal challenges to review executive decisions.
President Jacob Zuma.
President Jacob Zuma’s decision to reshuffle his Cabinet can be reviewed, Judge Bashir Vally of the South Gauteng High Court said on Tuesday.
Vally explained his unprecedented earlier judgment last Thursday, which ordered Zuma to provide the Democratic Alliance (DA) with records and reasons for the Cabinet reshuffle because of a rule that relates to reviews of executive decisions, News24 reported.
Rule 53 of the uniform rules of the court was established to regulate on a national basis the procedure to be followed in cases of all types of review, whether based on statutory or common law, Vally said.
In his court papers opposing the DA’s court bid to get him to provide reasons for his Cabinet reshuffle, Zuma argued the provisions of rule did not apply to an application to review his executive decision to restructure the Cabinet.
Vally said the weakness in the president’s case was that he had relied on the literal interpretation of the rule, saying rule 53 could be applied to legal challenges to review and set aside an executive order or decision.
The judge also acknowledged that most of the cases where rule 53 was used involved a decision or proceedings of an inferior court, a tribunal, a board, or an officer performing judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative functions, and not an executive decision, according to the report.
“Rule 53 was promulgated at a time when executive decisions were not subject to review. Subsequently, with the enactment of the Constitution and the development of common law since its enactment, these decisions, as the president acknowledges, are subject to review,” Vally was quoted as saying by the news website.
The DA approached the North Gauteng High Court on an urgent on April 24, to compel Zuma to disclose reasons for the Cabinet reshuffle on March 30, which saw former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, get fired.
The party’s next legal move would be to ask the high court to review and set aside his decisions for changing the Cabinet.