The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) has lodged an application seeking that the Constitutional Court have President Jacob Zuma’s firing of former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas be declared invalid and set aside.
The organisation said Zuma has established a pattern of “irrational and unlawful behaviour” through the Nkandla debacle and the firing of finance ministers, including Nhlanhla Nene in 2015.
“In the application, the court is requested to review and declare the President’s decision dismissing Gordhan and Jonas as Minister and Deputy Minister of Finance respectively, unconstitutional and invalid and to set it aside,” the organisation said in a joint statement with watchdog organisation, My Vote Counts NPC (MVC).
“The court is also requested to declare that both the President and the National Assembly have violated their constitutional duties, and to direct the Speaker of the National Assembly [Baleka Mbete] 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 HSF application was against both Zuma and the National Assembly.
“In addition, 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 HSF court challenge follows that of the Democratic Alliance (DA) which approached the high court to force Zuma to reveal his reasons for firing Gordhan and Jonas. Zuma had initially told fellow African National Congress (ANC) leaders that his decision was based on an intelligence report, which purported that Gordhan and Jonas’ travel overseas during an official roadshow, was instead used to garner support and conspire against government.
Zuma has until Thursday to furnish documents relating to the reshuffling of his cabinet, as ordered by the high court.
The cabinet reshuffle, through which Gordhan and Jonas were fired, saw South Africa being downgraded to junk status by two rating agencies.