The Democratic Alliance’s court bid to force President Cyril Ramaphosa to sack two Cabinet ministers for having lied under oath was politically motivated and unlikely to succeed, according to a Johannesburg academic.
Spokesperson Solly Malatsi yesterday confirmed that the DA was preparing to approach the High Court in Pretoria to lodge papers to push Ramaphosa to fire Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and Minister for Women Bathabile Dlamini.
Gigaba was last year found to have “deliberately told untruths under oath” in a court battle launched by Fireblade Aviation – owned by the Oppenheimer family – against the department of home affairs and others.
Dlamini was also found to have lied under oath during her testimony before Judge Bernard Ngoepe’s inquiry into the South African Social Security Agency.
The inquiry was set up to establish whether Dlamini – who was social development minister at the time – should be held personally liable for the costs incurred during the court case over the social grants crisis.
Commenting on the DA’s move to force Ramaphosa to get rid of two members of his executive dogged by scandal, Wits School of Governance professor Ivor Sarakinsky said the party’s legal effort “will not fly and is clearly politically motivated to cast doubt on President Ramaphosa, who has significant public credibility”.
“It is DA electioneering and a cheap attempt to tarnish President Ramaphosa so as to promote their own noticeably less popular leader, Mmusi Maimane.
“Attempts to pre-empt the decisions of the head of state, elected in terms of constitutional rules, undermines democratic mandates to govern,” he added.
“Instead of focusing on the obvious negative examples of Gigaba and Dlamini, think what the consequences of this case might be for the future of government.
“If there are concerns over a particular member of Cabinet, then the accepted practice is to argue the case in representative institutions such as parliament.”
Sarakinsky said he could not think of any precedent in law where a head of state was legally forced to fire a member of Cabinet.
“There is none that I can think of. The global democratic practice gives the head of state – whether prime minister or president – full discretion.
“If it succeeds – which I doubt it will – it will limit the ability of future presidents to exercise their discretion in appointing the Cabinet. It will erode public confidence in democratic processes and practices.
“I also doubt that the Constitutional Court will entertain this stunt.”