Two days into the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEF 2017) taking place Durban, President Jacob Zuma comes to defend his highly criticised Cabinet reshuffle.
The President said he reshuffled the cabinet so as to make room for young people to join in running the government.
Zuma, who was responding to a question from a floor member during the WEF 2017 meeting on Thursday, sad the cabinet reshuffle was not for his selfish purposes as people largely describes it, rather, it is for the benefit of the SA youth to access the government.
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The floor member asked Zuma how young people can play a bigger role in his government’s decision-making and in reply he said:
“I reshuffled my Cabinet recently and I put a lot of young people in my Cabinet. Of course, people have different views about that, but that’s democracy.”
In his address to the WEF 2017 participants, Zuma said African leaders must give room to the youth in the political system and also address the issue of unemployment and inequality.
He said the WEF 2017 theme of inclusive growth is one of such opportunities that gives room for serious discussions on issues of economic growth and development.
Opportunities for that growth must not be enjoyed by only a few, Zuma said, adding that since the last WEF meeting in 2015, “we’ve seen increased alienation and exclusion”.
Africa is a youthful continent, with a bright future if it invests correctly in its young people. As leaders, we haven’t addressed adequately how to close the gap between rich and poor and get meaningful inclusive growth. The gap between rich and poor in many countries remains wide.” Zuma said.
Zuma also touched on the issue of illicit financial flows, which lead to billions of dollars leaving the shores of Africa annually. “This is money that can be used to finance projects in Africa.
“If we don’t address financial crimes such as profit shifting, base erosion and other tax crimes we won’t make progress,” Zuma said.
Meanwhile, the controversial cabinet reshuffle will be debated in court today (Thursday, May 4th) following DA’s court application asking Zuma to provide documents and record on which his decision was based in reshuffling his Cabinet.
The opposition party had appealed tot the court to force Zuma to provide these documents, particularly the document he used as a base for axing former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas.
The case was previously moved from Tuesday to 10am on Thursday but later moved to start during the lunch break. The arguments are estimated to last for about two and a half hours.
Advocate Steven Budlender, for the DA, will argue that the review application is unable to proceed because the president has refused to provide the record and reasons on which his controversial decision was based.
But, Zuma had maintained that he is empowered through the Constitution to hire and fire any of his ministers and the decision to axe Gordhan and Jonas, was an executive one.
Advocate Ishmael Semenya SC, has, however, accused the DA of being on a fishing expedition and abusing the legal process.
He is also asking the court to dismiss the application with costs, on a punitive scale, saying the DA is not entitled to any record on which Zuma based his decision to reshuffle his cabinet.
“The president’s decision to reshuffle cabinet is quintessentially one that belongs in the category of executive decisions that deserve protection from disclosure….The applicant is thus not entitled to any record of the decision,” Semenya said in his heads of argument.