31/03/2017 19:06 SAST | Updated 31/03/2017 19:12 SAST

The DA Failed To Stop Zuma In His Tracks

The court said the DA did not back up its application with enough evidence to justify stopping the ceremony.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane gestures as he speaks to members of the media at the result center in Pretoria, South Africa August 4, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has lost a court bid to stop the swearing in of the new cabinet on Friday night. Just twenty five minutes before the swearing in was due to take place, judge Owen Rogers of the Western Cape High Court said that the DA had not provided sufficient facts to back their application.

But Rogers emphasised that the ruling was not an endorsement of President Jacob Zuma's decision to shuffle his cabinet.

"Nobody, certainly not the President, can say that our judgment vindicates his decision," Rogers said.

The DA sought an urgent interdict against the swearing in, pending a full judicial review of the cabinet reshuffle, which it wants to launch on April 3.

For the court to intervene, Rogers said, the DA had to make out a prima facie case for their main application, and had to prove that irreparable harm would be caused without the interdict. But there was an additional test to be passed, and that was whether the case laid out was a "proper and strong one".

Firstly, Rogers said the DA's application had mainly consisted of conclusions, leaning heavily on financial implications like the weakening of the Rand or a ratings downgrade. He said their case was not backed up by sufficient facts. And in any event, Rogers said these financial implications were mainly relevant to the finance ministry. Because Malusi Gigaba, who replaced Pravin Gordhan as finance minister was already a cabinet member, he would not have to be sworn in, so the swearing in ceremony would have little or no impact on the financial implications.

Rogers also said that the financial consequences of Zuma's decision were primarily based on perceptions, and these existed with or without the swearing in of the ministers on Friday night.

While the court on Friday did not have to decide the DA's intended main application, which alleges that the president reshuffled his cabinet in bad faith and irrationally, Rogers noted that the threshold for judicial intervention in the decision was likely to be very high.

"The rule of law may have to tolerate a period of turmoil so that the Constitution can be vindicated," Rogers said.