South Africa’s High Court on Thursday ordered President Jacob Zuma to provide reasons for his decision last month to fire finance minister Pravin Gordhan in a cabinet reshuffle that led to sovereign debt downgrades, eNCA television said.
The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) had filed the court application to compel Zuma to give his reasons for the reshuffle, which triggered large street protests against the president and led to more calls for his resignation.
The DA has also called for a no-confidence motion against Zuma in parliament.
“We got the order that we wanted with some very minor adaptations and it allows us now to go ahead with the main review application into the rationality of dropping Mr Gordhan from the cabinet,” James Selfe, DA lawmaker and head of its executive, said.
The opposition and even some members within Zuma’s cabinet, including Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, said at the time that Zuma removed Gordhan on the basis of a “spurious” intelligence report.
That report accused the former finance minister and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas of plotting with banks in London to undermine the South African economy. Jonas was also fired by Zuma.
“We expect that document to be part of the record,” said Selfe, referring to the intelligence report.
Ramaphosa usually publicly backs Zuma and his criticism of Gordhan’s sacking was a sign of deepening divisions in the ruling African National Congress that are likely to worsen until the party elects a new leader in December.
It was not immediately clear if Zuma would appeal Thursday’s ruling.
In a bid to reassure markets, Zuma has said that he expected the addition of several younger ministers would add energy to his cabinet.
He has so far not given any specific reasons for removing Gordhan and replacing him with new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.
(Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Writing by James Macharia)