DA gives Ramaphosa more time to fire 'lying' ministers

08 October 2018 - 15:39 By Andisiwe Makinana
DA leader Mmusi Maimane initially gave Cyril Ramaphosa until October 5 to dismiss the two ministers
DA leader Mmusi Maimane initially gave Cyril Ramaphosa until October 5 to dismiss the two ministers
Image: Supplied

The DA has given President Cyril Ramaphosa seven more days to fire ministers Bathabile Dlamini and Malusi Gigaba from his cabinet.

The party wrote to Ramaphosa following the Constitutional Court judgment 10 days ago which said Dlamini should be referred to prosecutors for lying under oath. The court directed the Director of Public Prosecutions to make a call on whether Dlamini should be prosecuted and charged with perjury.

Dlamini is the former minister of social development. A unanimous judgment of the Constitutional Court criticised her for her role in the handling of the Sassa debacle. The court described her conduct as “reckless and grossly negligent”‚ saying she had failed to disclose information before an inquiry into her role in the social grants debacle.

It also found that Dlamini should be personally liable for 20% of the legal costs of the Black Sash Trust and Freedom Under Law application‚ including costs of two counsel.

A day later‚ DA leader Mmusi Maimane wrote to Ramaphosa asking him to dismiss from his cabinet both Dlamini‚ who is now the minister in the presidency responsible for women‚ and Gigaba‚ who is minister of home affairs.

Maimane gave Ramaphosa until October 5 to dismiss the two ministers‚ warning that the DA would otherwise approach the courts to seek an order to compel him to act to uphold the honour of the executive.

TimesLIVE has since seen a letter from the DA's lawyers dated October 8‚ in which they advise Ramaphosa to respond formally by Friday‚ October 12 “failing which our client has instructed us to proceed without any delay”.

The law firm said the DA had instructed them to launch “the necessary review proceedings with regards to your failure to remove Mrs Dlamini and Mr Gigaba from your cabinet for the reasons set out in our client's letter”.

In his letter‚ Maimane reminded Ramaphosa about his party's litigation against former president Jacob Zuma concerning the rationality of appointments to the cabinet. Their court action followed Zuma's dismissal of Pravin Gordhan from his cabinet “for manifestly irrational reasons”.

“Our contention was and remains that all constitutional acts must be rational‚ and this includes appointments in terms of section 91(3) of the Constitution of members of the cabinet. It follows‚ so we argue‚ that such appointments can be reviewed.”

The court ruled in favour of the DA as far as it sought a record of the decision‚ ordering Zuma to provide the official opposition with the record. But the party withdrew its substantive application when Ramaphosa appointed Gordhan to his cabinet in February this year.

“We do however persist in our belief that manifestly irrational appointments to the cabinet are reviewable‚ and we will test this again if necessary‚” said Maimane at the time.

The DA's call for Gigaba's dismissal flows from the North Gauteng High Court's judgment in February this year‚ in the matter of Fireblade Aviation (Pty) Ltd and Minister of Home Affairs‚ where Judge Neil Tuchten found that Gigaba‚ in his previous stint as home affairs minister‚ “deliberately told untruths under oath” and that “he committed a breach of the constitution so serious that I could characterise it as a violation”.

Maimane argued that as much as it was irrational to appoint a manifestly unsuitable person to the cabinet‚ it was equally irrational to retain such a person in the cabinet‚ especially when the Constitutional Court and the High Court had made the pronouncements that they had.

“For that reason‚ we earnestly request that you discharge these two members from your cabinet and act to defend the integrity of the executive‚” he said‚ warning that failure to do so by October 5 may result in the DA embarking on similar litigation as it did against Zuma regarding Gordhan's dismissal.