Party above the state

IT WOULD have been bold of President Jacob Zuma to announce he will sack ministers who fail to live up to their performance contracts if he did not have such powers already.

IT WOULD have been bold of President Jacob Zuma to announce he will sack ministers who fail to live up to their performance contracts if he did not have such powers already.

Unfortunately, the president is creating an impression that until there are performance agreements between himself and his ministers, he has no legal powers to sack laggards in his team.

The president should know from personal experience, having lost his job as deputy president because his then boss Thabo Mbeki simply exercised the well known prerogative that cabinet ministers serve at the pleasure of the head of state.

It is not the first time that the president has demonstrated excitement over the discovery of powers that he already enjoyed. Early in his tenure he announced amid much fanfare that he would seek to amend the law to give police officers the right to use deadly force against armed criminals. This after the Constitutional Court had thought it had settled the matter in the Walters case in May 2002.

By seeking a piece of paper to give him powers that he already has, we can only conclude that Zuma seeks to show that, unlike his predecessor, he will not act out of spite or other considerations should he have to fire a comrade. He is pre-empting the type of outrage that precipitated the end of the Mbeki rule.

While this may be regarded as commendable in the ANC-led alliance, it betrays the notion of a man placing the concerns of the party ahead of those of the state. Or at worst, an empty public relations exercise.

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