President Jacob Zuma Picture: Jacques Naude/ANA Pictures

President Jacob Zuma has applied for leave to appeal the North Gauteng High Court ruling obliging him to submit his reasons for the March Cabinet reshuffle in which he fired Pravin Gordhan as finance minister.

“President Zuma has served upon the DA a notice of application for leave to appeal against the order of Judge [Bashier] Vally, handed down last Thursday, which requires him to deliver the record of decision by the close of business tomorrow,” said James Selfe, the chairman of the federal executive of the Democratic Alliance.

The presidency did not respond to requests to confirm Zuma’s decision.

Selfe said Zuma had further filed a notice in terms of Rule 35(12) to request that the DA should provide him with the so-called “intelligence report” which was widely cited by senior members of the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party as having been used by Zuma as grounds for first recalling Gordhan from an investor roadshow in London, and then firing him from Cabinet four days later.

The demand that the DA give him the report was a “bizarre” step, Selfe said.

“We are led to conclude that President Zuma is using this medium as another delaying tactic in avoiding accountability for his disastrous reshuffle that has severe consequences for all people of South Africa.”

But the director of the Centre for Constitutional Rights Phephelaphi Dube told eNCA she saw it as a “master stroke” on Zuma’s part, and noted that he had never publicly relied on the so-called intelligence report.

“I would consider that as a masterstroke … I think that allegations had been made by another members by the (ANC’s) National Executive Council, so the president himself has not in public relied on the intelligence report.”

The reported allegedly claimed that Gordhan was plotting against Zuma but was widely dismissed as fabricated.

Last week, Judge Bashier Vally gave Zuma until the end of this week to provide the court with the record of his reasons for replacing the finance minister and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas. Vally said while the presidential prerogative to appoint Cabinet members was wide, it was not unfettered in the manner that “the royal prerogative” was in days bygone.

The ruling was condemned by the ANC, who urged Zuma to lodge an appeal and accused the judiciary of pandering to opposition parties.

The DA wants the decision to sack Gordhan and Jonas set aside as irrational. But in order to challenge it, it needed Zuma’s reasons for doing so. When he did not supply this readily, the party turned to the court to compel him to do so.