South African court orders Zuma to explain reason for cabinet reshuffle

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He was also reportedly opposed to the government's excessive spending, angering Zuma and his allies.

On Thursday Judge Bashir Vally, presiding in the matter heard in the North Gauteng High Court, ruled in favour of the DA's urgent application to have Zuma's reasons for reshuffling his Cabinet on March 30 disclosed.

Zuma had five days to provide the Democratic Alliance with his reasons for firing Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas, Judge Bashier Vally ordered.

Zuma, who came to power in 2009, has been accused of corruption but survived several no-confidence votes in parliament thanks to his African National Congress (ANC) majority in the National Assembly. "The timing of the announcement of the reshuffle, in the middle of the night, also serves to highlight the real motives and intent by the President Zuma".

He added that it was in exercise of his powers per the constitution that deserved protection.

To read into the Constitution that the president must explain himself on the composition of the National Executive to the opposition is to use the judiciary to police political decisions and sets a very worrisome precedent, the ANC 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.

The presidency was not immediately available to comment.

Selfe said the DA believes that Zuma's decision should be set aside as it does not meet the requirements of rationality and was therefore illegal.

The DA says if Zuma complies with the court order handed down on Thursday, he will be held to account for whatever he says or reveals in a later application to review his Cabinet reshuffle.

On the other hand, if Zuma denies that he used the report, that would strongly suggest that he separately lied to at least the ANC and the SACP about his reasons for the Cabinet reshuffle.

This was demonstrated by ratings agency S&P Global and Fitch downgrading of SA to junk status.