Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma is of the opinion that the reasons for his Cabinet reshuffles are “not necessary to be known by people”.
Two of the six questions posed to him in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Thursday dealt with the matter of his regular Cabinet reshuffling.
DA MP from the Western Cape, Jaco Londt, asked: “What were the reasons for his decision to effect the 11th Cabinet reshuffle on 17 October 2017?”
IFP MP from KwaZulu-Natal, Mntomuhle Khawula, asked: “Whether the monitoring and evaluation of the performance of Ministers and Deputy Ministers have any impact in any way in the consideration of Cabinet reshuffling; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details?”
He also wanted to know “whether such considerations have any bearing on the ousting of the former Minister Pravin Gordhan, Minister Blade Nzimande, Minister Derek Hanekom and Deputy Minister Mcebisi Jonas”.
Zuma’s answers to both these initial questions were exactly the same: that in terms of section 91 of the Constitution, it is the president’s prerogative to appoint and remove members of his Cabinet, and that he made the changes “after careful consideration”, and that the matter was “subject to judicial processes”.
‘If you want to know, you must win elections’
In his follow-up question, Londt asked if Zuma had moved former State Security Minister David Mahlobo to the energy portfolio to rush the nuclear deal.
NCOP chairperson Thandi Modise said this was a “completely new question”.
Zuma repeated that it was his prerogative to appoint and remove Cabinet members.
“There are reasons that are not necessary to be known by people,” said Zuma. “If you want to know, you must win elections.”
He was then asked if he would release the records of how he had made his decisions regarding the Cabinet reshuffle.
“What record do I have that I have not released?” Zuma said, seemingly puzzled. “The decision I took is the record!”
Zuma was then asked if he would remove Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“No, this is not right,” said Modise, and ruled that Zuma should not answer the question.
DA MP from the Free State, George Michalakis, said Zuma was correct to say his Cabinet reshuffle was a record, as no other president had shuffled his Cabinet 11 times in two terms.
Michalakis then asked Zuma if he thought it was in the interest of transparency to give reasons for the reshuffle.
“I’ve answered this question,” said Zuma.
‘Honourable president, your decisions defy logic’
Before asking his follow-up question, Khawula said: “Honourable president, I can see you’re very difficult today.
“Honourable president, your decisions defy logic.”
Zuma responded: “There are no decisions the Presidency has taken that defy logic. There isn’t.”